I completely understand the concerns that rail passengers have with the cost of train fares and their impact on household budgets, but thanks to action by Ministers, regulated rail fares have risen no faster than inflation for four years running. I also know that the Department for Transport carefully monitors how rail fares and average earnings change, and keeps under review the way fare levels are calculated.
I accept that any increase in regulated fares is regrettable, but it is important to remember that record amounts are being invested to achieve better train services. Fares revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations, as well as the massive upgrade programme which Ministers have driven forward, with around £40 billion being invested to the end of 2019. This will mean new state-of-the-art trains and better stations which will help cut journey times, provide better connections, and stimulate growth across the country.
I believe it is important to fairly balance the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger. I am pleased that the Government is driving the rail industry hard to improve efficiency to ensure we maximise the value of passengers' and taxpayers' investment in the railways. You may be interested to know that, on average, 97 per cent of every £1 of a passenger's fare goes back into the railway.
Furthermore, the announcement in the Autumn Budget by the Chancellor that the Government will introduce a new railcard for those aged 26-30 is welcome news, making travel easier and give 3.5 million more young people a third off their rail fares.