The Government regulates the existence and price of certain rail fares. We protect passengers by setting the maximum amount regulated fares can increase year-on-year. In general the fares that are regulated include commuter fares (in major cities), some weekly, monthly or annual season tickets, day singles and returns (Oyster Pay As You Go in London) as well as some protected fares like long-distance off-peak return fares (formerly Saver Returns). We have capped the rail fares we regulate at inflation (Retail Price Index) for four years running, and will continue to do so for the life of this parliament. This means those fares we regulate will rise by no more than 1.9% in 2017.
Other fares are unregulated, and train operators are permitted to set these on a commercial basis, taking account of competition from other transport modes and the need to attract business in order to grow their revenue. Unregulated fares include the lower cost Advance purchase fares which have been introduced by a number of operators. This has helped to make some leisure travel services significantly cheaper for passengers who are able to book ahead and commit themselves to travelling on a specific departure, and has also helped to fill emptier trains. While there is a wide range of fares available advance fares are a key rail success of recent years where we have seen huge growth. Unregulated advance tickets have increased from 8% of revenue in 2007/08 to 14% of revenue in 2015/16.
The fares that passengers pay are supporting the biggest modernisation programme on Britain’s railways for over a century. In the five years to 2019, Network Rail is spending more than £38 billion to maintain and improve the network.