Millions of commuters will have to pay an average of 2.7% more for train tickets from today.
The rise, announced by industry body the Rail Delivery Group in November, is lower than the 3.1% increase at the start of last year.
Train companies say it is the third year in a row that average fares have been held below RPI – the inflation measure on which rises are based.
But many commuters face an increase of more than £100 for annual passes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps cited a new fund for trials for flexible fares as an example of how the government was committed to “putting passengers first”.
He said he planned to tackle the “fragmented” system and had begun the process to end the franchise for Northern Rail, whose performance was “completely unacceptable”.
“You can judge me on this at the end of the year,” he said. “These changes are going to take time but I think people will see things moving in the right direction.”
But Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said the rise showed passengers were “once again paying more for less under the Tories”.
Independent watchdog Transport Focus says most rail users (53%) do not feel train ticket prices offer value for money.
The watchdog’s director, David Sidebottom, said: “After a year of pretty poor performance in some areas, passengers just want a consistent day-to-day service they can rely on and a better chance of getting a seat.”
He encouraged passengers to claim compensation for eligible delays in order to “offset” the cost of fare rises.
Some annual season tickets up by more than £100
- Reading to London up £132 to £4,736
- Gloucester to Birmingham up £118 to £4,356
- Glasgow to Edinburgh up £116 to £4,200
However, Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for Rail Delivery Group, said rail companies were investing in improving journeys while holding fare increases below inflation.
He said 2020 will see 1,000 extra weekly services and 1,000 more carriages added to Britain’s rail fleet.
“There is a record level of investment going into the railway at the moment,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“For people who do suffer from poor punctuality in areas of the country, that could be for a variety of different reasons, we apologise. We are looking at at trying to make punctuality much better across the board,” he said.
Official statistics show that just over one in three trains failed to arrive on time in July, August and September 2019, although that figure was an improvement on the previous year.
About 40% of annual rail price rises are regulated by governments in England, Scotland and Wales. They are pegged to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation measure for the previous July. Other fare rises are decided by train companies.
RPI inflation was 2.8% last year.
But RPI inflation is generally higher than the most widely watched measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).
Passenger groups have repeatedly called for the system to be changed since RPI inflation was abandoned by the National Audit Office as a national statistic in 2013.
Protests will be held against the fare increase on Thursday, including a demonstration outside London King’s Cross station.
The rallies come as the Trades Union Congress (TUC) releases research suggesting fares have risen by twice as much as wages in the last 10 years.
The TUC said someone earning an average salary in the UK would have to spend 16% of their wages for a season ticket from Chelmsford to London (£511 a month), but similar commutes would cost 2% of the average salary in France, and 4% in Germany and Belgium.
London blogger The Gentle Author has been photographing the changing face of London, focusing on what is known as “facadism”, the practice of destroying everything apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it.
Here, we present a few pictures from the series and the story of the buildings that once stood.
National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2
This Grade I listed building was designed by John Gibson as London’s largest banking hall, in 1863-65, with figures along the roofline representing locations where the bank did business including:
Above the arched windows, eight sculpted panels of heroic allegorical scenes represent the achievements of mankind:
- the arts
The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1
Thomas Lloyd is recorded as this pub’s first landlord, in 1805.
After it closed for good, in 1908, the building was incorporated into the Providence Row Night Refuge and, in 2006, converted into student housing for the London School of Economics.
London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1
This building was designed by Sydney Perks, in 1927, as a state-of-the-art auction room with a roof that simulated sunlight on cloudy days, parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout.
Since the fruit and vegetable market left Spitalfields, in 1991, it has housed many small independent local businesses.
The tenant of the new development is an international legal corporation.
465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7
Mallett, Porter & Dowd built this handsome warehouse for their business, in 1874.
Redevelopment by University College London for student housing was turned down by Islington Council, citing inadequate daylight, due to the windows of the new building not aligning with those in the facade.
But this judgement was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
And the development won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup for 2013.
College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1
Designed by Elijah Hoole, this part of the Toynbee Hall campus, built in 1884-85, was demolished and facaded for the construction of Attlee House, which was completed in 1971 but itself demolished in 2016.
It will next front Gatsby Apartments, a development of flats for the commercial market.
Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1
Designed in 1821 by Charles Parker, the architect of Hoare’s Bank, in the Strand, this chapel was demolished in the 1960s apart from the portico and part of the ground floor, which stood in front of a car park for many years.
The Grade II listed Doric hexastyle portico is topped by a triglyph frieze and a pediment.
Its central door has a shouldered architrave and iron gates.
The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10
The Spotted Dog was described as “a well accustomed public house” in 1792, by which time it was at least 30 years old.
In the 19th Century, it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s housed a dancehall.
18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1
Decorative brick inlay on the Berwick Street elevation declares this facade was built in 1886.
Originally a bakery, it became Central Chemists in 1950 when the ground floor and basement premises were acquired by Gertrude Kramer.
Michael Moss acquired the pharmacy and freehold to the building from Mrs Kramer in the 1970s and enlarged it to include 85-86 Berwick Street in the late 1980s, naming it Broadwick Pharmacy.
Richard Piercy bought the shop in 1990 and ran it as Zest Pharmacy until 2016.
In recent memory, the upper parts of the building were used as offices by music, film and voice-over businesses.
All photographs © The Gentle Author from the book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism.