City rail fare hikes to cost commuters nearly five per cent of their salaries
GREATER Manchester rail commuters face paying almost five per cent of their salaries for a season ticket into the city centre after the latest fare hikes.
Average rail prices on socalled ‘regulated’ fares have gone up 3.4 per cent –the biggest increase since 2013.
It means an annual season ticket from Horwich Parkway, in Bolton, to Manchester city centre now costs £1,156 after the increases came into effect.
The average full-time salary for people living in Bolton is £24,322.
Commuters from Horwich are therefore spending 4.8 per cent of their average salary just to get to Manchester – the highest percentage wage pay-out in Greater Manchester, according to exclusive analysis by our sister paper the M.E.N.
One regular traveller says she wouldn’t mind the price – if the experience matched up.
Katie MacDonald’s season ticket to travel daily on Northern Rail’s service from Bromley Cross in Bolton to Manchester Victoria has leapt from £1,212 to £1,260.
Katie, 40, a contract manager, added: “It’s no longer a case of standing room only – it’s a case of struggling to breathe. If this rise could be justified by the improvement on the number of carriages, the quality of service and getting a seat, I could live with it. But there has been no improvement in the service.”
Last year commuters on this line endured five weeks of replacement buses while works were carried out on a damaged bridge.
Although the trains are now back, she says their woes continue as carriages have been slashed from four to two.
“There are now up to 30 people on every rush hour service who can’t fit on a train. It’s got worse.”
Starting on Monday there are three days of strike action on Northern Rail set to take place this week over plans for driver-only trains. Commuters are so angry they have set up a Northern Fail campaign group on Facebook.
Regulated fares cover most commuter season tickets as well as some intercity journeys. The prices rise in line with inflation. But most wages have not kept pace with inflation.
This earnings data is also before tax. Once tax and National Insurance are deducted, the cost of commuting will rise more sharply.
Annual tickets from Rochdale to Manchester cost 4.7 per cent of the average salary, Wigan North Western and Wigan Wallgate 4.3 per cent and Bolton station 4.2 per cent.
Salford Crescent has the ●●Some Greater Manchester commuters face paying nearly five per cent of their salaries for a season ticket into Manchester city centre cheapest commute in Greater Manchester once we factored in pay, coming in at 1.6 per cent of salaries in Salford.
Across Greater Manchester as a whole the average season ticket takes up about 3.7 per cent of salaries. This figure takes the average salary for the region of £26,315 per year and a season ticket price of £963, based on the average cost of tickets from stations used by more than 1m passengers last year.
John Moorhouse of TravelWatch North West, said above-inflation fare rises had been going on for years, adding: “Our concern is that we are not seeing the investment in return for the increases.”
A spokesman for Northern said they were in the early stages of a wide-ranging modernisation programme to transform rail travel across the north.
The first refurbished trains had been delivered around Manchester and stations like Moston and Kearsley had been improved, he said.
He added: “We are working hard on increasing our train capacity through the introduction of 281 brand new carriages which were ordered at the start of the franchise and remain on target to start arriving later this year.
“We are also delivering further improved trains, better stations and more services to transform local rail for current and future customers in the north of England by 2020. Fares are an important factor in enabling the investment that will make this happen and ensure the railway continues to support our customers, communities and the regional economy.”
A DfT spokesman said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.
This includes the first trains running though London on the Crossrail project, an entirely new Thameslink rail service and continuing work on the transformative Great North Rail Project.
“This is the fifth year in a row where this government has capped the cost of regulated fares – like most season tickets – in line with inflation, saving passengers money. We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with more than 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.”
Network Rail have been approached for comment.