In a move certain to dampen any Christmas spirit, the rail industry has announced that train fares will rise by an average of 2.3 per cent from January 2.The BBC reports that ‘the increase covers both regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets’. The hike in regulated fares has previously been capped at July’s Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 1.9 per cent. But unregulated fares face no cap which means that some unregulated fares will go up by considerably more than 2.3 per cent. Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: ‘This latest fares hike is another kick in the teeth for British passengers and condemns them to continue to pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains.’ Meanwhile, thousands of season ticket holders on Southern Rail, who have endured a shocking service in recent months, will be able to claim a month’s free travel as compensation. Buy-to-let Buy-to-let landlords are taking steps to avoid the impact of tax changes that come into effect next year, The Guardian reports. Research by mortgage lender Kent Reliance found that ‘landlords were restructuring their portfolios to escape higher taxes on their rental income, which will be phased in from April 2017. Some landlords have set up limited companies, it said, while others have increased rents or transferred properties to family members.’ The report also found that the average rent is at a record high of £881 a month, and ‘landlords indicated they intended to raise prices by an average of 5.4 per cent – the equivalent of £571 a year for households’. Income tax The top 1.5 per cent of earners in this country will pay half of all additional income tax collected by the Government by 2021. The Telegraph reports that 469,000 people earning more than £150,000 a year will account for almost £20 billion of additional income tax paid to the Treasury, a record high according to the Office for Budget Responsibility.