Com­muters pay the price

RAIL USERS FACE AN­OTHER TICKET PRICE HIKE

Hayes & Harlington Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

RAIL fares have in­creased twice as much as pay since 2010, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

The find­ings were re­vealed just ahead of the an­nounce­ment on how much prices will go up next year.

Com­muters found out how much ex­tra they will be charged from the new year on Tues­day (Au­gust 15), with a 3.6% hike an­nounced – the steep­est in five years.

In 2016, the rise in fares - which is linked to the pre­vi­ous July’s Re­tail Price In­dex (RPI) – was 1.9%.

While av­er­age weekly earn­ings have grown by only 16% in eight years, an anal­y­sis by the Rail, Mar­itime and Trans­port union (RMT) showed that rail fares have risen by around 32%.

The rise means for ex­am­ple, a new nurse or po­lice of­fi­cer com­mut­ing from Chelms­ford to Lon­don, where an an­nual sea­son ticket would cost £4,000 af­ter the lat­est rise, would pay 20% of their salary on an an­nual sea­son ticket, claimed the union.

RMT gen­eral sec­re­tary, Mick Cash said: “Gov­ern­ment pol­icy of sup­press­ing work­ers’ wages while at the same time pre­sid­ing over cor­po­rate wel­fare on our pri­va­tised rail­way has re­sulted in a toxic com­bi­na­tion of fare rises eas­ily out­strip­ping wages.”

The pri­vate op­er­a­tors and gov­ern­ment say the rises are nec­es­sary to fund in­vest­ment.

How­ever, they are pock­et­ing the prof­its while pas­sen­gers are pay­ing more for less, with rail en­gi­neer­ing work be­ing de­layed or can­celled, skilled rail­way jobs be­ing lost and staff cut on trains, sta­tions and at ticket of­fices.

A Depart­ment for Trans­port spokesman said: “The Gov­ern­ment care­fully mon­i­tors how rail fares and av­er­age earn­ings change, and keeps un­der re­view the way fare lev­els are cal­cu­lated.

“We are in­vest­ing in the big­gest rail mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme for over a cen­tury to im­prove ser­vices for pas­sen­gers – pro­vid­ing faster and bet­ter trains with more seats.

“We have al­ways fairly bal­anced the cost of this in­vest­ment be­tween the tax­payer and the pas­sen­ger.

“We are driv­ing the in­dus­try hard to im­prove ef­fi­ciency to en­sure we max­imise the value of pas­sen­gers’ and tax­pay­ers’ in­vest­ment in the rail­ways.

“Reg­u­lated rail fares are capped in line with in­fla­tion for next year.”

Paul Plum­mer, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Rail De­liv­ery Group, said: “Money from fares pays to run and im­prove the rail­way, mak­ing jour­neys bet­ter, boost­ing the econ­omy, cre­at­ing skilled jobs and sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties across Bri­tain, and politi­cians set in­creases to sea­son tick­ets.

“It’s also the case that many ma­jor rail in­dus­try costs rise di­rectly in line with RPI.

“Rail com­pa­nies are work­ing to­gether to im­prove per­for­mance now, adding thou­sands more seats over the next 18 months and, longer term, sim­pli­fy­ing fares and ticket buy­ing so that the coun­try has the rail­way it needs to pros­per.”

PHOTO: JOHN STILLWELL/PA WIRE

Crowded scenes at water­loo this week as ma­jor en­gi­neer­ing works take place

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