First day woes for passengers
RAIL passengers in Rochdale faced price increases and train cancellations on their first day back to work after the festive period.
Fares have now increased by an average of 3.2 per cent - the largest hike in six years - coming on top of months of chaos on the region’s railways.
Campaign groups and opposition political parties said the hikes would only add to the “misery” of passengers who had “suffered atrocious service in 2018”.
The Department for Transport said it was investing in the biggest network modernisation since Victorian times, with major projects to provide faster and better trains with more seats.
Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes attended Castleton station on Wednesday, January 2, where two train services to Rochdale and Blackburn were cancelled by Northern because of a fault. She claimed average fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages, with some commuters now paying £2,850 more to travel to work than in 2010.
Ms McInnes said: “The amount by which train companies can raise regulated fares is the responsibility of the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
“He has the power to enforce this but he’s choosing not to. Rail users are paying more and more for less and less. The sooner our railways are brought back into public ownership the better.”
Last November, industry body the Rail Delivery Group said money from fares was going directly towards improvements, but accepted the increases would be hard to swallow for suffering passengers.
Northern said their average annual fare means an average weekly season ticket will rise by £1.30 and the average off peak day ticket 25p.
A spokesperson said: “These rises, which are in line with RPI (retail price index), will help fund current and future investment in rail services across the north. Northern is delivering new trains, improved trains, better stations and more services to transform local rail for current and future customers. 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.”
They added that customers can save by taking advantage of advance fare discounts on more than 670 journeys while advance purchase fares have been reduced on more than 100 journeys.
●●MP Liz McInnes and rail passengers at Castleton station on January 2 the first day of new fare rises