Today is the day of the year when most train fares across the UK increase.
It's all over the news. The BBC, ITV, Sky News, Daily Mail and many other web sites all have very similar stories.
Now, I am no expert on the way our railway system is run, but the way that fares are set does seem to be like smoke and mirrors. There is talk of Regulated and Un-Regulated fares. There are 'baskets'. There are 'average price rises' and 'average regulated price rises'. It also appears that train companies can choose to take pot shots at particular groups of commuters by varying individual regulated fares (ie an annual season ticket) by up to 5% over the average price rise.
It is hugely complicated and I wouldn't like to be the person at a train company who is responsible for running the data that ensures they comply with all the rules.
Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a commuter on Chiltern Railways. They hold a black belt in making good use of the complex rules and regulations. Despite initially releasing their 2013 season ticket prices almost a month ago, they have been chopping and changing them right up until the beginning of this week.
So far as I can tell (as of last night), season ticket price rises to London across the Chiltern Railways network range from 0% (yes - no price rise) to a whopping 9.2% for long distance commuters. Now you might think that commuters from Princes Risborough would be pleased with their £nil price rise, but the reality is that they've got this because they kicked up such a fuss about the recently implemented timetable. I suspect the decision to not increase their prices today is an acknowledgement that there will be no improvement to train services anytime soon.
Car parking prices are 'un-regulated' which means that Chiltern have also increased their car park charges today. They would probably like to point out that many of their car park prices did not go up last year. All I can say is that the new price of £7.00 a day to park your car at the station is a heck of a lot of money!
Across the country many commuters will see their rail fares go up from today by far more than their net incomes.are likely to increase. That does not make people feel good.
Happy New Year everyone!