Rail fares look set to increase by an average of 6.2% from January 2013 in the wake of July's inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The rail industry is restricted in how much it can raise prices for 2013, as it can only increase fares by July's Retail Prices Index figure, plus 3%. July's figure of 3.2% means that rail operators will be able to raise fares by 6.2% on average from 2 January 2013.
However, train ticket prices could go up by as much as 11% on some routes next year, provided the operator averages it out to 6.2% over all routes it runs, by freezing prices or making smaller price rises on other routes.
Those who commute to work will undoubtedly be hardest hit by any fare hikes. The table below shows example price increases on the current season tickets for commuters into london terminals from the main commutable counties.
(Prices correct as of: 23/11/12 Season Ticket Calculator)
If you are able to negotiate flexible working hours you might be better off getting a train in the morning off-peak hours which are generally after 9.30am and between 3.01pm to 6.44pm inclusive (however, this changes per train operator).
For regular commuters in particular, it could be worth buying your season ticket on or before 31 December 2012. That's because the price you pay for your season ticket is based on the date that the ticket starts – so a ticket starting on 31 December 2012 could be hundreds of pounds cheaper than one starting on 2 January 2013.
Unfortunately this will only help commuters whose season tickets are due to expire late December/early January. If your ticket is due to expire in the first few weeks of 2013, it could still prove cost effective to buy early, although you'll need to weigh up how much 2013's ticket will cost extra before taking the plunge.
That said, it's usually a good policy to have season tickets running in line with the calendar year – as that way you can always work it so you're paying last year's prices for this year's ticket!
Some lucky employees can get an interest-free loan from their employer for the cost of their season ticket, but for many this isn't the case. If you have to foot the bill yourself, one option is a 0% purchase credit card. You'll need to apply for your credit card about a month before you train ticket is due for renewal.
Aim for a credit card that offers 0% on purchases for at least 12 months. Then make a repayment plan to spread the cost of your ticket over the 12 month period.
Many credit cards will allow you to set up a direct debit for a set percentage of the balance each month, or a standing order for a fixed amount to help you repay the debt.
Remember that credit cards can be expensive if you still have a balance after the introductory 0% period so make sure you're disciplined and that you stick to your repayment plan.
- National Rail Enquiries season ticket calculator - Compare 0% credit cards
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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