We are not the regulator for passenger fares.
Train operators employ a commercial strategy in setting fares. If you wish to complain about an increase in the price of your train fare, you should first contact the train operator direct to allow it the opportunity to address your concerns. Contact details for individual train companies can be found on the national rail website.
Ultimately, if a train operator’s commercial strategy runs contrary to the broader public interest, it is for the government to consider as part of its fares policy.
Certain standard class rail tickets are regulated by Government:
- Transport Scotland (for First ScotRail)
- Welsh Assembly Government (for Arriva Trains Wales)
- the Department for Transport (for all other train companies)
For details of which fare types are regulated, please see the Strategic Rail Authority's Fares Review Conclusions 2003 ( PDF 808 Kb).
As such, the amount by which an individual regulated fare can rise is capped at the Retail Prices Index (RPI) plus a maximum of 6%, within a basket of fares that cannot rise by more than RPI plus 1%. RPI was 3.2% (in July 2012) when the limits were set for this year, so the maximum average increase for the basket is 4.2%, and the maximum increase for an individual fare is 9.2%.
There are three exceptions to this:
- Merseyrail's concession agreement with the local Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) limits regulated fares to an average increase of RPI (no plus addition).
- Northern Rail's agreement with West Yorkshire PTE limits the amount by which an individual regulated fare can rise at the RPI plus a maximum of 8%, within a basket of fares that cannot rise by more than RPI plus 3%. So the maximum average increase for the basket is 6.2% and the maximum increase for an individual fare is 11.2%.
- Southern’s franchise agreement limits the amount by which an individual regulated fare can rise at the RPI plus a maximum of 3%, within a basket of fares that cannot rise by more than RPI plus 1%. So the maximum average increase for the basket is 4.2% and the maximum increase for an individual fare is 6.2%.
We enforce the Competition Act 1998, which makes it illegal for companies to do certain things, for example, use their powerful position in the market to take advantage of consumers or fix prices and we may conduct an investigation if we have reasonable grounds to suspect the law has been broken.
If you think we should look at your fare, please look at our approach to the application of competition law to rail fares and car park charges. It is set out in our web-based guide and our set of quick reference questions and answers on this topic.
If, after reading our guide you still think that we should look at your fare, go to our guidance on how to make a complaint under competition law ( PDF 47 Kb).
We have no role in relation to penalty fares. Rules concerning penalty fares are set out in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC) ( PDF 238 Kb).
Train companies will have their own penalty fares scheme. These schemes are approved by the Department for Transport.
If you have been charged a penalty fare and wish to appeal against it, you should contact the relevant train operating company and use its appeal system.
You may also consider seeking advice from Passenger Focus or London TravelWatch, as appropriate, who may be able to assist you further. You should note that they cannot take up your complaint until you have contacted the relevant train company and given it a chance to respond first, and you should enclose all previous correspondence with the train company/retailer.
Last updated: April 2013