Government accused of profiting from rail commuters over fare rises
4 January 2016
The Government has been accused of profiting from commuters as the annual hike in rail fares hits people returning to work.
The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) published research which shows that by 2020 Government income from the railways could triple from £1.1 billion today to £3.5 billion.
The study claimed this would be enough to reduce public spending on the network by 25%.
Train fares in Britain rose by an average of 1.1% on Saturday, despite Network Rail figures showing more than one in 10 trains (10.7%) arrived at their final destination at least five minutes late in the past 12 months.
CBT public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: “Passengers are paying a premium price for a less than premium service, so any profit needs to be reinvested back into the railways and used to keep fares affordable and introduce long-overdue ticketing improvements.
“We want to see a ticketing system that reflects modern working patterns and makes rail travel a viable choice, not just for the UK’s millions of part-time workers, but also for the thousands more who are currently prevented from working due to the cost of the commute.”
The CBT has called for the introduction of flexible season tickets for part-time workers, free travel for under 11s across England and Wales, and regulated fares – which is about half of all tickets and includes annual passes – to be set using the Consumer Price Index measurement of inflation rather than the Retail Price Index.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said some passengers would be “amazed” at another fare rise because of the “dire” performance of the railways in parts of the country.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “We know that nobody likes to pay more to travel by train, especially to get to work, and at 1.1% this is the smallest average increase in fares for six years.
“On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and other running costs.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We are helping hard-working people with the cost of transport. We’ve put a stop to inflation-busting increases in regulated fares until 2020.
“This will save the average season ticket holder £425 in this Parliament, and means earnings are outstripping rail fare increases for first time in a decade.”
Photo from Jonathan Brady / PA Wire