Latest Rail News

03.01.13

Baker under fire over fares claims

Rail minister Norman Baker has been widely criticised in the press today for suggesting in a radio interview yesterday that rail fare increases are not as high as the media has suggested.

Overall, ticket prices increased by an average of 3.9% on Wednesday. Regulated fares rose by an average of 4.2%. It is the tenth year of above-inflation rises, in line with successive governments’ policy, which has been severely criticised by unions, campaigners and passengers.

Baker told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Once you take the basket of fares, include early advance and off-peaks, we are not nearly as expensive as has been presented.

“You could argue that the people who are travelling in the rush hour are using the premium product and therefore ought to pay something which reflects that premium product which they are buying, so it works both ways.”

Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the TUC and chairwoman of Action for Rail, said: “At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases.”

And Bob Crow, general secretary of RMT, said: “Passengers getting another inflation-busting kick in the teeth know that their hard-earned cash is being bled out of the railways and into the pockets of a bunch of spivs and chancers.”

Blogger Mark Smith, who runs ‘The Man in Seat 61’ website, suggests in a new analysis that some comparisons of the UK with Europe are misleading and that inter-city fares, for example, are competitive or much cheaper in the UK at virtually all times, except fully-flexible peak-time tickets bought on the day. His analysis is here.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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