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13.08.12

Fares to rise faster than wages – Campaign for Better Transport

The Campaign for Better Transport has urged the Government to scrap plans to increase regulated fares by 3% above inflation, as to do so would mean fares rising three times faster than salaries.

The fare rises will be based on 3% above July’s RPI figure, which is predicted to be around 2.7%. The ONS is due to publish the exact figure tomorrow. 

Train operators are allowed to raise prices by a further 5% from this base price as long as they cut other fares to provide an average rise of just under 6%. This means some commuters could face price rises of 11%. 

The Government aims to raise fares by 3% above inflation for the next three years to reduce the burden of cost on the taxpayer. The total cost of running the railway is currently around £11bn, of which £7.2bn, or 65%, comes from fares. Fare increases would push this contribution up to 75%. 

Stephen Joseph, the Campaign’s chief executive, said: “If the Government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries. With the economy flatlining, this is untenable. 

“The Government knows they can’t continue to hit commuters – that’s why they’ve postponed the fuel duty increase. Now they need to give the same help to rail users. 

“The last transport secretary, Philip Hammond, said he thought that rail was a ‘rich man’s toy’ and his replacement Justine Greening has not been able to persuade George Osborne to limit next year’s severe fare rises. 

“Our railways need to be affordable to ordinary people, not just ‘train toffs’ on high incomes. If rail fares are allowed to gallop ahead like this, many commuters to London will soon being paying as much to travel to work as they do in income tax. This is no way to stimulate the economy.” 

Rail minister Theresa Villiers said: “We are determined to get the cost of running the railways down. That is the most effective way to respond to passenger concerns about fare levels.

“Our reform plans aim to deliver £3.5bn in efficiency savings while continuing to expand services for passengers. Savings on that scale will enable us to end above inflation fare rises.” 

Rail unions are holding a national day of action against the fare rises tomorrow. 

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

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