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Government must rule out ‘super-peak’ – CBT

Industry professionals and campaign bodies have broadly welcomed the Transport Select Committee’s Rail 2020 report’s recommendations on fares.

Following an average rise in ticket prices of 3.9%, and 4.2% for regulated fares, the report calls for a more modern and flexible approach to fares, with further rises ruled out for commuters travelling on peak services.

Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “The Government should take this opportunity to rule out introducing 'super-peak' fares to price people out of peak hour travel, and should instead implement the committee's proposals for more modern and flexible fares in its current fares review.

“The Committee is right to say that costs should be cut, but that this should not be at the expense of passengers or of station staff.”

TUC general secretary and chair of the Action for Rail campaign Frances O’Grady agreed that more transparency is needed, and said: “The train travelling public – which has been hit hard this week with the New Year hike in fares – would understandably like to know where every penny of taxpayer subsidy is going.

“Regular railway users who find themselves paying much more for substantially less will wonder how much of taxpayers’ money is going into the profits of the train companies – many of whom would struggle to run a service without a government subsidy.”

But Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, responded: “We flatly reject the unfounded accusation that train companies are profiteering, an allegation which appears to be based on hearsay and flies in the face of the report’s own explicit statement that profits are ‘relatively small’.”

Louise Ellman MP, chair of the transport committee, had said: “There are good economic, social and environmental reasons for the Government to provide a £4bn subsidy to the railway, but to drive efficiency savings across the sector the Government and the regulator must shine a light on complacent management, waste and profiteering by ensuring greater transparency in the finances of the rail industry.”

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Image c. Philip Toscano / PA Wire 


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