Commuters braced for rises in regulated rail fares

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Millions of rail users in the UK are bracing themselves for news of an increase in regulated rail fares from January 2018.

Train operators are allowed to raise fares by as much as the Retail Prices Index (RPI) figure for July, expected to be in the region of 3.5%.

The exact figure will be published later this morning.

Passenger groups said commuters would be worst-hit, and suggested that the RPI measure should be scrapped.

The rises will affect “anytime” and some off-peak fares as well as season tickets in England and Wales.

In Scotland, it is mainly commuters who will be affected, with off-peak fares rising by a smaller amount.

The Scottish government currently limits rises in off-peak fares to RPI minus 1%.

There are no plans for increases in Northern Ireland.

Unregulated fares, which include super off-peak travel and advance tickets, will be set in December.

Transport Focus, which represents the interests of passengers, said rail users were already fed up with getting poor value for money.

“Wages are not keeping pace with inflation and performance remains patchy,” said a spokesperson for the group.

“Passengers, especially commuters, face potential strike action, the consequences of the continual rise in passenger numbers, and disruption caused by railway upgrades.”

Transport Focus said it would also like to see the RPI measure replaced by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is currently running at 2.6%.

CPI is typically lower than RPI.


Stricter punishments for speeding offences in England and Wales

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Tougher punishments for the most serious speeding offences have come into force in England and Wales.

Under new guidelines, fines for drivers caught doing 51mph in a 30mph zone or 101mph on a motorway will start from 150% of weekly income, rather than the previous level of 100%.

The Sentencing Council said it wanted a “clear increase in penalty” as the seriousness of offending increases.

Motoring groups have broadly welcomed the new guidelines for magistrates.

‘Extreme offenders’

The new measures follow responses to a consultation.

It said previous guidelines did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the limit rises.

Fines will also be increased for when motorists drive at 41mph or faster where there is a 20mph limit.

However, because the maximum fines allowed by law remains the same, speeding drivers cannot be fined more than £1,000 unless the offence takes place on a motorway, where the limit is £2,500.

Some 244 people were killed in crashes that occurred when a driver was breaking the speed limit on Britain’s roads in 2015.

New speeding fines

AA president Edmund King said it was right that “extreme offenders” were punished “severely”.

He added: “Responsible drivers will welcome the changes coming into force today.

“The majority of drivers who keep to the correct speed, as well as driving to the conditions, won’t be affected.

“It is only those who deliberately drive dangerously who will end up in court.”

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said while the new measures “underline how seriously the courts take speeding offences”, the limit on fines means there is not a “level playing field”.

He also questioned whether police officers have enough resources to ensure the tougher punishments have an impact on road safety.

Mr Gooding said: “While we broadly support linking the amount of the penalty with income, the cap on the level of fines means that this link is broken for high-income drivers – hardly a level playing field.”

Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity Brake, said: “Toughening the fines and penalties for speeding is long overdue.

“I hope that magistrates ensure the new sentences are consistently applied.”

Sentence levels for less serious offences are not changing.


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