Regulated rail ticket fares in England and Wales have increased 5.9%, the biggest rise in over a decade, even as the country grapples with service disruption amid strikes.

This marks the largest hike since 2012, when fares increased by 6%.

Typically, regulated fare hikes are pegged to the Retail Price Index measure of inflation for the previous July, which stood at 12.3% last year.

However, this year’s hike was linked to July’s average earnings growth, which was 5.9%. Last year, the fares were increased by 4.8%.

UK rail minister Huw Merriman said: “I understand it has been a difficult year and people are feeling the pinch which is why – through the biggest ever government intervention – we capped the rise well below inflation and delayed it coming into force.”

Britain’s rail sector has recently faced a chaotic time with labour shortage, extreme weather, and infrastructure lapses.

A spokesman for Rail Delivery Group that represents train operators called the decision ‘understandable.

“The Government’s decision to hold fares down below current inflation is understandable. It is important that fares are set at a level that is appropriate for both the industry and its customers,” the spokesman noted.

A statutory watchdog for transport passengers, Transport Focus, however, said that travellers are not getting a value for money service amid poor service due to frequent walk-outs.

Transport Focus CEO Anthony Smith said: “Capping fares below inflation and the delay until March have gone some way to help ease the pain, but the need for more fundamental reform of fares and ticketing must not be forgotten.”