Rail campaigners hit out at unfairness of fare increases
Government-set rail fare rises which come into force tomorrow are forcing passengers to bear an unfair proportion of the network’s costs, according to campaigners.
This year, regulated fares, set by the Government, and including season tickets, can be increased by the RPI inflation rate plus one per cent. The figure is based on what the rate was in July.
Campaigners say the move will do nothing to encourage motorists to change to rail travel. And they say the above-inflation rise is a slap in the face following the axing of the planned 3p fuel duty rise.
The average season ticket price will go up by 4.2 per cent, the tenth above-inflation increase in a row, according to lobby group Railfuture Group.
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David Redgewell, of public transport pressure group South West Transport Network, said: “The Government is investing in railways and we acknowledge that it has one of the biggest rail building programmes since Victorian times, but rail passengers should not be paying above the rate of inflation rises.
“It is everybody’s railway, it is of huge benefit to everyone, and very important to the South West economy as a whole. If it’s everyone’s railway, everyone should pay.”
Mr Redgewell acknowledged that good deals on rail fares still existed.
Railfuture Group said the rise came at a time of “no perceptible improvement in services”.
The Association of Train Operating Companies has said that the overall average rise, including non-season tickets, will be 3.9 per cent, with some fares not going up as much as this.
But with some non-season ticket unregulated fares allowed to be increased by an unlimited amount, Railfuture said some fares could be going up by around 11 per cent or 12 per cent. First Great Western has set unregulated increases at the same rate as the Government-set regulated rise.
Railfuture spokesman Bruce Williamson said: “Annual increases should be limited to no more than the rate of inflation, and that should be CPI, not RPI, because that’s the lower figure and pensions benefits and salaries are all linked to CPI.
“Most people’s fares are going up anywhere between 4 per cent and 11 or 12 per cent. Meanwhile, petrol tax is frozen and overall the cost of driving remains static. How does this help persuade people out of their cars and ease congestion? Where is the green policy?”
Dan Panes, spokesman for First Great Western, said: “Train fares remain tremendously good value and we are seeing an increase in passenger numbers. Between Bristol and London the fare is the equivalent of 16p per mile.”