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Conservatives pledge to freeze regulated rail fares for five years

Regulated rail fares will be frozen in real terms for the duration of the next Parliament if the Conservatives win power, David Cameron will pledge today. 

Under the proposal, the prime minister said extending the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation cap on regulated ticket prices until 2020 could save more than 250,000 annual rail season-ticket holders an average of £400 over the next five years. 

A restriction limiting rises in these fares to RPI inflation has been in place for the past two years under the Coalition government. Cameron will say: “The cost of commuting is one of the biggest household bills that hardworking families face and it is something we are determined to bear down on. 

“It shouldn’t just be taken for granted that people across the country who get up early and come home late, spend a large amount of the money they earn travelling to and from work. 

“Because of the difficult decisions that we have taken to repair the economy, we have been able to hold down commuter fares for the past two years. If elected in May, we would freeze them in real terms for the next five.” 

However, the Labour party claim that the announcement is “unfunded, uncosted and frankly totally unbelievable”. 

The Campaign for Better Transport says the Conservative announcement is a step in the right direction. Although it added that regulated ticket prices have risen by over 20% during this Parliament meaning fares have increased around four times faster than average wages since 2010. This has pushed some season ticket prices to over £5,000, with an increase during this Parliament of over £900. 

Stephen Joseph, CEO of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Rail passengers have suffered inflation busting fare rises for most of the last 10 years, which have far outstripped wage growth, so any commitment to end real terms fare increases is welcome. 

“However, more is needed: we want to see flexible tickets for the army of part time workers who currently pay full fares, and more widely the whole rail fares system needs to be made simpler, fairer and cheaper.” 

Michael Dugher, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said the Conservatives should be judged on what they’ve done in the last five years, not what they say they might do in the next five. 

“The truth is Tory ministers have allowed rail fares to rise 20% on average since 2010 and services for hard-pressed commuters to get worse,” he said. 

Mick Cash, leader of the RMT union, said that the “latest stunt” would still mean annual fare increases that would “institutionalise the harsh reality that the British passenger pays the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains”. 

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