The Welsh Government-owned rail franchise said the increase was to fund “investment as affordably as possible for both rail passengers and taxpayers”.
Rail fares are calculated by using the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which has been calculated at 1.6% this year. This older measurement of inflation has been largely superceded by the newer Consumer Prices Index, but is still published because it is used to calculate cost of living and wage escalation.
This year an extra 1% is being added to the RPI figure for regulated rail fares in England and Wales – but not in Scotland.
The increase is being introduced from St David’s Day – March 1.
A TfW spokesman said: “We are aligning ourselves with the current DfT position of an RPI plus one increase in regulated fares from March 1, 2021, helping keep fares simple for people travelling between Wales and the rest of the UK rail network.
“Rail fares help us to fund our investment as affordably as possible for both rail passengers and taxpayers. Any investment will provide faster journeys, more frequent services, brand new rolling stock, and station improvements throughout the Wales and Borders network.
“We understand the need to bring people back to public transport when Covid-19 restrictions end and we’ll implement a price freeze on some of our rail products such as local rover and rangers, local railcards, and our SailRail product.
“For the future we’re already looking at a payzone pilot for the South Wales Metro, multiflex improvements, and the potential for rail-bus integrated ticketing pilots.
“Since taking over the franchise in 2018 we’ve already implemented some key schemes such as all-day free travel for children under 11, free off-peak travel for children under 16, a 10% reduction on fares to/from north Wales, and a reduction of fares in certain valley zones by 12.5%.”
Russell George MS – the Shadow Minister for Economy, Transport and Mid Wales – said: “The irony, verging on hypocrisy, shown by Labour over this 2.6-percent rise in fares for Transport for Wales passengers is shocking – especially with just a fortnight before the new fare structure is imposed.
“Labour panned the same percentage rise set out by the Department for Transport late last year, but instead of coming clean and making an announcement, the Welsh Government disclosed the rises not to Members of the Senedd and to the people of Wales, but to the media following their inquiries.
“Fares rises are, generally, inevitable, but so too it seems is Labour’s preference for hiding uncomfortable news and disclosing it to the press first.”