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Rail tickets rise by ‘inflation-busting’ 8.8% this year – how to save on train travel

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Recently, the Government’s Office of Road and Rail released the extent of rail fare increases across the UK. This comes following continuous months of rising inflation which has resulted in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate reaching 9.2 percent. Advanced train ticket sales were up 8.8 percent in the year to March, while CPI inflation was at seven percent.

Travellers also saw off-peak fares rise by 3.8 percent while the overall standard class ticket price jumped by 4.4 percent.

Those who choose to travel first class saw their unregulated fare increase by 11.1 percent while long-distance commutes climbed by 6.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Network Rail workers were on strike last week and more industrial action could be taking place later this summer.

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Holidaymakers looking to travel within the UK are likely to avoid the above-inflation price hikes and unreliable travel schedules as a result.

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Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, outlined how the “inflation-busting” increases to train fares are affecting commuters.

Ms Coles explained: “Bargain-hunting train travellers have been thwarted by fare hikes.

“Advance tickets, where organised travellers have always been able to track down the best bargains, saw an inflation-busting 8.8 percent hike over the year, while long distance Standard fares were up 5.5 percent.

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“Unfortunately this is likely to be a small change compared to the enormous rail price hikes due next year.”

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Ms Coles also noted that booking tickets in advance is no longer as generous as they used to be in bad news for someone looking to get a cheap deal on train travel.

She added: “There are a limited number of advance tickets available for longer distance journeys.

“They go on sale well before the date of travel, and are available as single tickets for specific trains.

“They’re much loved by thrifty travellers, because they offer such significant savings. However, they have become far less generous in the year to March – rising 8.8 percent.

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“At the other end of the spectrum, first class passengers will be railing against the soaring cost of luxury, as First Class fares were up over 11 percent and those for unregulated long distance journeys were up almost 13 percent.”

The finance expert also warned that ticket prices could rise even further next as high as 11 percent.

“But this is small change compared to the incredible rail fare rises we could see next year. Regulated fares are linked to RPI in July,” Ms Coles said.

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“The most recent figures we have are for May, when RPI was 11.7 percent, and it may well rise from here. Next year, rail price rises could be spectacularly painful.”

As part of her warning, Ms Coles cited how people can still save money on train travel by purchasing a railcard.

Various concessions are available such as the Family and Friends Railcard, Young Person’s Railcard and Senior Railcard.

For those commuting near peak fare times, the savings expert suggests purchasing a split ticket which means part of the journey will be off peak.

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