Mayor calls on Government to freeze national rail fares

16 November 2017
  • Fares freeze already encouraging millions more journeys by public transport
  • Passengers to save even more with landmark new unlimited Hopper fare early next year and weekly capping on Oyster introduced during the year
  • Latest figures show passenger numbers on London Overground rising while other major rail companies in London and South East all significantly drop – thanks to the fares freeze
  • Mayor challenges Government: ‘If I can do it, why can’t they?’

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today confirmed that fares set by Transport for London (TfL) will again be frozen in 2018 after increasing by more than 42 per cent in the eight years before Sadiq became Mayor – and called on the Government to match his freeze on national rail services, including London’s suburban rail lines.

As the cost of living continues to rise, the Mayor has challenged the government to follow his lead and freeze fares across London’s suburban rail services.

The Mayor’s freeze on TfL fares already benefits around four million journeys a day across London and, in keeping with his manifesto pledge, will remain in place until 2020.

Today he also announced that passengers in London will benefit further as the unlimited one-hour Hopper fare for bus and trams will be introduced early next year, and weekly capping will be brought to Oyster cards later in the year.

The Mayor’s fares freeze means that everyone buying a bus or tram ticket in London will not pay a penny more than they did in 2016. Pay as you go journeys on the Tube, DLR, Emirates Air Line and rail services, where TfL fares apply, are all frozen, as well as Santander Cycles.

Sadiq has also frozen all TfL travel concessions, ensuring that children, those over 60, veterans, apprentices and those on Job Seeker’s Allowance continue to benefit from free or discounted travel. By 2020, the average London household will have saved around £200 thanks to Sadiq’s fares freeze.

Latest figures by the Office of Rail Regulators (ORR) show that London Overground, where fares are frozen by Sadiq, was the only one of the four main train operators within London and the South East to see passenger numbers rise. Passengers on Govia Thameslink Railway, South Trains and Southeastern all fell by more than five cent in April to June 2017-18, compared to the previous year, as their fares rose.

If TfL assumes responsibility for more suburban rail services, fares on these services would be covered by the fares freeze.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Millions of Londoners benefit every day from my fares freeze so I’m delighted to confirm that it will continue next year as promised. We will also be introducing the unlimited Hopper fare which will allow Londoners to change buses and trams as many times as they need to within an hour without paying a penny more. This will save Londoners millions of pounds. Freezing travel costs is making a real difference for Londoners as the cost of living continues to rise sharply. The Government must now follow my lead and freeze national rail fares – especially for London suburban rail services. If I can do it, why can’t they?”

Passenger numbers on London buses have increased around 0.5 percent compared to last year, when adjusted to account for Easter. This year-on-year growth has been helped by the successful introduction of the new Hopper fare last September which has meant an end to having to pay two fares when changing buses within an hour. Since it launched, more than 105 million journeys have been made using the Hopper fare.

The Mayor confirmed today that early next year passengers will be able to take unlimited bus and tram transfers within one hour. The upgrade will also allow passengers to make unlimited bus and tram journeys even if they travel on tube or rail services in between ‘hops’, helping even more passengers benefit.

TfL is also working hard behind the scenes to make the major changes required to deliver weekly capping to Oyster during 2018, to bring it in line with Contactless ticketing.

Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We welcome the Mayor's commitment to keeping public transport affordable for Londoners. We also support proposals to bring the capital's suburban rail services under the direction of Transport for London as this would extend the benefits of the Mayor's fares freeze to even more people. The Government would do well to follow the Mayor's lead and announce a national fares freeze in the forthcoming Budget to protect Londoners who use train services outside Transport for London's network from the planned 3.6 per cent rise come January."

Jabeer Butt, CEO Race Equality Foundation, said: “The Hopper and the fares freeze should help black and minority ethnic communities in London cope with the rising cost of living. In a city where housing costs have dramatically risen, affordable transport means people can better access jobs, education, and opportunities."

Ruth Duston, CEO of the Victoria, Northbank and Hatton Garden BIDs and Director of the Cheapside Business Alliance, Aldgate Partnership and Old Street Partnership said: "Anything that makes it easier, and cheaper, to travel around the capital will be welcomed by the hundreds of businesses I work with. The rising cost of living, which includes transport costs, puts pressure on workers, customers and visitors, and ultimately can impact on business performance. It's vital that everything possible is done to encourage more people to come to London to visit and to work, and the cost of travel is a key component."

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “We’re committed to making travel in London as convenient and affordable as possible. Freezing fares on TfL services is helping millions of Londoners who use our services every day. Improvements to the Oyster and Contactless system next year will also bring benefits and our focus will be to use all fares revenue to develop new ways to meet future demand and growth."

The fares freeze is being fully paid for through TfL’s efficiencies programme, which was outlined in its Business Plan last December and is delivering a year-on-year reduction in operating costs.

The Mayor only has the power to set fares on TfL services. Travelcards, and the associated daily and weekly caps, are set in agreement with the private train operating companies (TOCs) under fares regulations set by the Government, which permit regulated fares to increase in line with RPI inflation if no agreement is made.

The TOCs have decided to raise their fares in line with this, with the increases in January reflecting the RPI level from July this year, which was 3.6 per cent. This increase is close to the maximum permitted by the guidance from the Secretary of State for Transport. By January 2018, the overall increase in Travelcard fares will be more than 5.5 per cent

Notes to editors

  • The Mayoral Decision for the 2018 fares package will be available here – https://www.london.gov.uk/about-us/mayoral-decisions
  • The passenger rail usage data from the Office of Rail Regulators can be viewed here - http://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/25719/passenger-rail-usage-2017-18-q1.pdf
  • The TOCs have decided to raise their fares in line with RPI from July this year, which was 3.6 per cent. This increase is close to the maximum permitted by the guidance from the Secretary of State for Transport which states that no regulated TOC fare should rise by more than the percentage increase in the RPI
  • The TOCs are responsible for setting pay as you go fares on their own services and are due to confirm these later this month.
  • The figures show that rail passenger journeys in the UK fell by 2.7 percent in April to June 2017-18, compared to the same quarter last year. The fall in journeys, and season ticket journeys in particular, may be partly due to the effect of the Easter weekend, which was in April this year (2017-18 Q1) as opposed to March in 2016 (2015-16 Q4).
  • Fares will also be frozen on c2c services from Grays to Fenchurch Street and on Chiltern Railways from Amersham to Marylebone and West Ruislip to Marylebone as these fares are set by TfL.
  • Beyond Zone 6, most PAYG fares are frozen. There are 10p and 20p increases in a number of fares involving Shenfield and Brentwood, reflecting TfL commitments to keep TfL fares aligned with those applying on the adjacent mainline rail services operated by the TOCs and to avoid creating split ticketing anomalies.
  •  The latest ridership figures for TfL are available here - https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/board-20171109-item07-customer-op-perf-report.pdf
    • On London Underground, passenger volumes are currently 13 million (two per cent) lower over the first two quarters compared with 2016/17. The underlying trend, after adjusting for the later Easter, is just over half a per cent lower than the same period last year.
    • Passenger journeys have been affected by an overall reduction in rail demand in London and the South East and recent events in London have also had a direct impact on demand.
    • On TfL Rail services between Shenfield and Liverpool Street, passenger volumes are currently 1.4 million (6 per cent) lower over the first two quarters compared with 2016/17. This is primarily due to regular weekend closures of the line for engineering works in preparation for the introduction of the Elizabeth line from December 2018.
  • TfL will publish its latest passenger journey forecasts as part of revised Business Plan, which will be published later this month.