‘Day of action’ against fare rises
There has been fierce opposition to rail fare increases which were announced on Tuesday. Regulated fares will rise by up to an average of 6.2% in 2013, with some fares set to rise by as much as 11.2%.
The increases were calculated on July RPI data, which the ONS reported as 3.2%. This was higher than the predicted figure of 2.8%.
Unions led a national day of action against the increases at stations around the country.
Rachel Reeves, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told the Financial Times: “The Government has got to make a decision about whose side they’re on. Are they on the side of ordinary people ... or the rights of the train operators to charge whatever fares they like?”
Julian Huppert, co-chair of the Liberal Democrats parliamentary party committee on transport, also called for restraint. “We’ve been arguing consistently that we have to end the era of above inflation increases. People pay too much already, we need to stop doing it like that,” he said.
Scottish Labour’s shadow cabinet secretary for infrastructure Richard Baker MSP called the fare rises “a slap in the face for hard-working Scots”.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union, said: “It is a complete nonsense to say fares have to rise above inflation every year to pay for new rail projects. Air travellers don’t pay higher taxes to get new runways built and motorists certainly don’t pay more for new roads.”
Former Labour transport secretary Lord Adonis noted that the Coalition had reversed his scrapping of the flexibility rule that allows operators to raise some fares by much more than the average 6.2%, as long as they cut other fares to balance it out. On Twitter, he called the Coalition’s decision a “big mistake”.
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