Commuting | Rail fares rise 33% faster than wages - how can employers help?

Rail fares rise 33% faster than wages - how can employers help?

Rail fare rises have increased by an average of 3.1% in England and Wales, hitting the wallets of staff across the UK as the price of commuting by train rises by a third faster than wages.

It means many commuters will have to pay more despite a year of disruption in 2018 and a poor service. In 2018, the average rise in wages was 2.6%.

For some staff, this means paying a much higher rate than European counterparts as new pricing takes effect today.

In one example, workers travelling from Chelmsford in Essex to London will have to pay 13% of their salary for a monthly season ticket.

This compares with two per cent of a salary for a similar distance of commute in France, three per cent in Italy, four per cent in Germany and five per cent in Spain and Belgium.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the rises as “disgrace” whilst TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady noted the difference UK commuters have to pay compared to European counterparts. She said:

"Another year, another price increase. Many commuters will look with envy to their continental cousins, who enjoy reasonably priced journeys to work."

O’Grady added that ways that employers could combat the rise in wages was by offering zero-interest season tickets, flexible work hours and locations.

Yet, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has blamed unions by saying their pay demands and threats of strikes.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he defended the fare rise by saying “He said: “The reality is the fare increases are higher than they should be because the unions demand – with threats of national strikes, but they don’t get them – higher pay rises than anybody else.

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“Typical pay rises are more than 3% and that’s what drives the increases.”

Demonstrations against the rises are taking place at key stations in Manchester, London and the West Midlands today.

Last year, rail punctuality reached a 12-year low.

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