Fares

Please note, we are not the regulator for passenger fares and we have no role in relation to penalty fares.

If you have concerns about the price of your train fare, your first step should be to contact the station operator and voice those concerns.

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.

Please view our guide on Complaints about rail fares and car-park charges – the role of competition law and set of quick reference question and answers on this topic below. If, after reading our guide you think we should look at the price of your fare, please go to our page on how to report a breach of competition law.

There are two types of rail fare:

  • regulated
  • unregulated

For details of which fare types are regulated, please see the Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA) Fares Review Conclusions 2003.

Regulated fares

These fares are regulated by Government:

The amount by which an individual regulated fare can rise is linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI). Since 2014, the fare increase has been capped at the RPI. The cap for 2016 was set equal to July 2015’s RPI of 1%. The cap for 2017 has been set equal to July 2016’s RPI of 1.9%.

We can check if your fares are regulated for you. We will look at the journey you are making and the time of day, and check this against the government's policy on which fares it regulates.

If you want to read more about this, the policy is set out in the SRA's Fares Review. (Please note the SRA has now been abolished but the bodies that took on its responsibilities for fares regulation continue this policy).

Please note that the names of some types of fares (from the Fares Review) have changed since this document was published. Please see the National Rail Enquiries website for more details.

Unregulated fares

Train operators employ a commercial strategy in setting fares. If you wish to complain about an increase in the price of an unregulated 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 Enquiries 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.

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 are concerned about the price of your rail fare, please read our plain English guide on Complaints about rail fares and car-park charges – the role of competition law.

If, after reading our guide you think that we should look at your fare, go to our guidance on how to make a complaint under competition law.

Penalty fares

We have no role in relation to penalty fares. Rules concerning penalty fares are set out in the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC).

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 Transport 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.

Further information