Out­rage as rail fares set to rise by 3.2% in 2019

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - NEIL LANCEFIELD & ALAN JONES name@waleson­line.co.uk

THE cost of reg­u­lated rail fares will in­crease by 3.2% next year, adding as much as £150 to sea­son tick­ets.

Around 40% of fares will rise by this amount in Jan­uary, in­clud­ing sea­son tick­ets on most com­muter routes, some off-peak re­turn tick­ets on long-dis­tance jour­neys and Any­time tick­ets around ma­jor cities.

The price of these fares is con­trolled by the Gov­ern­ment.

It uses the July Re­tail Price In­dex (RPI) mea­sure of in­fla­tion – an­nounced by the Of­fice for Na­tional Statis­tic­syes­ter­day – to de­ter­mine the cap on the an­nual in­crease.

Many long-dis­tance com­muters will see the an­nual cost of get­ting to work in­crease by £150.

A 3.2% in­crease in sea­son tick­ets will see an­nual passes from Tre­for­est to Cardiff Cen­tral in­crease by £31 a year to £1,011, Neath to Cardiff cost £1,763 (up £55), Ban­gor to Llan­dudno cost £1,300 (up £40) and Brighton to Lon­don cost £4,846 (up £150).

The an­nounce­ment came as unions pledged to press ahead with above­in­fla­tion pay claims amid grow­ing anger at a call by the Trans­port Sec­re­tary for lower wage rises.

Chris Grayling wrote to union gen­eral sec­re­taries on Tues­day, stat­ing he wants to “see lower lev­els of in­crease for pas­sen­gers in fu­ture” by us­ing the lower Con­sumer Price In- dex (CPI) in­fla­tion fig­ure, rather than RPI.

But he sug­gested this can only hap­pen if pay rises are also based on CPI.

The Rail, Maritime and Trans­port (RMT) union ac­cused Mr Grayling of try­ing to cap pay rises and blame work­ers for high fares.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn de­scribed the in­crease in reg­u­lated fares as “an in­sult to ev­ery­one who has suf­fered from the chaos on Bri­tain’s rail­ways”.

He went on: “The Gov­ern­ment’s sham­bolic mis­man­age­ment of our rail­ways has been a na­tional em­bar­rass­ment and they must now step in to freeze fares charged on the worst per­form­ing routes. Labour will take back con­trol of our rail­ways by bring­ing them into pub­lic own­er­ship so they are run in the in­ter­ests of pas­sen­gers, not pri­vate profit.”

The in­tro­duc­tion of a new timetable in May caused wide­spread chaos in the north of Eng­land and on var­i­ous Lon­don com­muter lines. Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers are still wait­ing to re­ceive en­hanced com­pen­sa­tion.

The dis­rup­tion led to the Gov­ern­ment ve­to­ing fur­ther timetable changes ex­pected in De­cem­ber, which means up­grades in ar­eas such as the West Mid­lands, the west of Eng­land and South Western Rail­way routes have been can­celled or de­layed in­def­i­nitely.

Pres­sure group Rail­fu­ture claimed train pas­sen­gers are be­ing treated like “sec­ond-class cit­i­zens com­pared to mo­torists”.

Spokesman Bruce Wil­liamson said: “We’ll eas­ily have the most ex­pen­sive fares in Europe, yet the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to freeze fuel duty for mo­torists. Why the dou­ble stan­dard?”

RMT gen­eral sec­re­tary Mick Cash said: “With pas­sen­gers al­ready fu­ri­ous at the shock­ing level of ser­vice on Bri­tain’s ripoff pri­va­tised rail­ways, to­day’s news is just an­other kick in the teeth that will come back to haunt both the Tory Gov­ern­ment and the train com­pa­nies alike.”

Paul Plum­mer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Rail De- liv­ery Group, which rep­re­sents the rail­way, said: “Fares are un­der­pin­ning a once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion in­vest­ment plan to im­prove the rail­way and politi­cians ef­fec­tively de­ter­mine that sea­son ticket prices should change in line with other day-to-day costs to help fund this.

“While the in­dus­try is learn­ing lessons from the re­cent timetable change, ma­jor im­prove­ments have been de­liv­ered this year from up­graded sta­tions at Lon­don Bridge and Liverpool Lime Street to new trains in the South West and Scot­land, and more will be de­liv­ered in the next year.”

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment caps reg­u­lated off­peak fare in­creases at RPI mi­nus one per­cent­age point.

Rail reg­u­la­tor the Of­fice of Rail and Road said reg­u­lated fares went up by an av­er­age of 3.3% in Jan­uary 2018, fol­low­ing the July 2017 RPI fig­ure of 3.6%.

LAU­REN HUR­LEY

The rate of Re­tail Price In­dex in­fla­tion, which is used to set rail sea­son ticket prices in Bri­tain, was 3.2% in July

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling

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