‘Rip-off central’ as regulated rail fares rise again

Crescent Road Car Park Tunbridge Wells

Regulated rail fares will go up by 1.9 per cent from January next year.

The news coincides with research by the TUC and the Action For Rail union campaign, which showed that fares have risen by double the speed of wages since 2010.

The increase is linked to last month’s Retail Price Index measure of inflation, which was confirmed by the Office for National Statistics.

Around half of rail fares are regulated, including season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance trips and Anytime tickets around major cities.

Meanwhile, the TUC’s analysis revealed that fares have increased by 25 per cent in the last six years, while average weekly earnings have grown by only 12 per cent.

A series of protests were held at railway stations across the country by trade unions yesterday [Tuesday].

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn held a placard which read ‘2017 rip-off central’ at a demonstration outside London Bridge station.

Asked how much it would cost to implement his policy of renationalising the railways, he replied: “The cost would be not very much because we would be taking over the franchises as they ran out and handing them over to direct rail to run as train companies.”

As fares for passengers rise, dividends paid to shareholders of private train companies have increased by 21 per cent in the last year to £222million, said the unions.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented: “Rail passengers are paying more and getting even less.

“Fares go up while trains remain overcrowded, stations are unstaffed, and rail companies cut the guards who ensure journeys run smoothly and safely.

“It’s time for rail services to be publicly owned, saving money for passengers and taxpayers alike.

“Instead of increasing fares and cutting staff, we should be building an accessible, reliable train service that Britain can be proud of.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the increase in ticket prices would be ‘particularly galling’ for commuters using Southern Railway.

Many of the operator’s services have been delayed or cancelled for months because of a dispute over changes to the role of conductors and staff shortages – blamed by the company on high levels of staff sickness.

Ms Lucas added: “Southern fares should be frozen immediately, so passengers are not paying growing amounts for a deteriorating service.”

Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel to work, and at the moment in some areas people aren’t getting the service they are paying for, and we know how frustrating that is.

“But increases to season tickets are set by Government. For every pound paid in fares, 97p goes back into running and improving services. It’s our job to make sure money is spent well.”

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