LONDON (Reuters) - British rail fares are to be frozen in real terms for another year and operators will no longer be able to hike individual prices even further, Chancellor George Osborne said.
In a statement on Sunday, Osborne said regulated train ticket prices would be capped at inflation for the second straight year, meaning a maximum rise of 2.5 percent in 2015.
In addition, train firms will no longer be able to increase individual fares by up to 2 percent more than the permitted average increase. Previously, operators could have raised fares on some regulated rail journeys by as much as 5.5 percent.
“I can announce that no regulated rail fares will rise by more than inflation in 2015, which together with last year’s freeze will save season ticket holders around 75 pounds over 2014 and 2015,” Osborne said.
The cost of living in Britain is a key political battleground ahead of May’s election, with the opposition Labour party claiming a crisis amid low earnings growth, and a Conservative government keen to stress proof of a recovering economy such as a fall in unemployment.
“Commuters suffering under the cost-of-living crisis will take this with a pinch of salt. David Cameron’s government has hit passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of 21 percent since 2010, adding to the cost of living crisis,” Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh said in a statement.
Britain said the rail measures would cost the government 100 million pounds in total by 2015/16.
Reporting by Neil Maidment; Editing by Alison Williams