Rail fares rise twice as fast as wages
RAIL fares have risen twice as fast as wages over the past decade, union bosses revealed yesterday.
They spoke out with rail passengers facing another increase of about 2.8 per cent in January based on last month’s retail price index, which is due to be announced today.
The Campaign for Better Transport stepped up its calls for rail fares to be linked to the usually lower consumer price index which in June was 1.9 per cent.
The annual row about the hike in rail fares comes with Labour and rail unions continuing their calls for the industry to be renationalised.
TUC figures yesterday showed that rail fares have risen by 46 per cent over the past 10 years while nominal weekly earnings have only grown by 23 per cent.
The TUC also said that despite months of cancellations and delays, private train companies paid out £200million in dividends to shareholders in 2017-18, up 6.5 per cent over the past five years.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The last thing UK commuters need is another hefty fare increase.
“It’s time to take the railways back into public hands. Every penny from every fare should be invested into our railways.”
The Campaign for Better Transport said the Government should honour former transport secretary Chris Grayling’s admission that RPI is the wrong inflation rate to base ticket prices on. CfBT chief executive Darren Shirley said: “The Government should commit now to January’s fares rise being linked to CPI.”
If rail fares do rise by the expected 2.8 per cent it will mean the cost of a season ticket from Brighton to London rising £125 to £4,581, from Gloucester to Birmingham rising £119 to £4,357 and from Edinburgh to Glasgow rising £114 to £4,198.
Bruce Williamson, spokesman for campaigners Railfuture, warned passengers “will just give up and refuse to pay”.
“They will find either another job or another form of transport,” he added.
Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “It’s tempting to say fares should never rise but the truth is that if we stop investing in our railway then we’ll never see it improved.”