Half-price rail­cards for 16 and 17-year-olds

After a year of travel chaos, pas­sen­gers face an­other ‘kick in the wal­let’ from fare rise of 3.1 per cent

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Jack Maid­ment Po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent

THE prices of train tick­ets for school and col­lege stu­dents are to be slashed as Chris Grayling to­day an­nounces plans to in­tro­duce a new teenage rail­card.

The travel card – due to be rolled out in Septem­ber to co­in­cide with the start of the new aca­demic year – will of­fer 16- and 17-year-olds a guar­an­teed 50 per cent dis­count on all train travel.

Mean­while, a Gov­ern­ment-backed rail­card for 26- to 30-year-olds, which will cut a third off the cost of most rail tick­ets, goes live na­tion­ally to­day.

The an­nounce­ments come on the same day fares go up by an av­er­age of 3.1 per cent, de­spite many pas­sen­gers hav­ing en­dured a year of rail mis­ery.

The botched roll-out of a new timetable in May re­sulted in the wide­spread can­cel­la­tion of ser­vices, leav­ing many com­muters stranded, while pas­sen­gers have also been af­fected by strike ac­tion.

Writ­ing in to­day’s The Daily Tele­graph, Mr Grayling sug­gests he wants to draw a line un­der the chaos of 2018.

He says: “I want pas­sen­ger jour­neys to be as good as they can be: punc­tual, re­li­able and fairly priced.

“From bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s clear im­prov­ing the most con­gested net­work in Europe – as it car­ries record pas­sen­ger num­bers – is not easy. Some dis­rup­tion when ma­jor works are tak­ing place is un­avoid­able, but what hap­pened last year was un­ac­cept­able.”

The in­tro­duc­tion of the new rail­card for teenagers, as well as the full roll-out of a rail­card for peo­ple up to the age of 30, is part of Mr Grayling’s push to make train travel more ac­ces­si­ble.

Those aged 16 to 25 are al­ready el­i­gi­ble for a rail­card, sav­ing them a third on many fares at an an­nual cost of £30, while the 26-to-30 rail­card also of­fers a third off most fares for the same cost.

The new 16- and 17-year-old card will go fur­ther, of­fer­ing a 50 per cent dis­count on all fares, in­clud­ing sea­son tick­ets, to 1.2 mil­lion el­i­gi­ble young peo­ple.

The Gov­ern­ment is due to con­sult on how much the rail­card will cost, but it is un­der­stood it will be no more than £30.

The rail­card for peo­ple aged 26-30 will go on gen­eral sale at noon after a suc­cess­ful trial in March last year saw 10,000 sell out in a mat­ter of hours.

Mr Grayling says travel costs “should not be a bar­rier to op­por­tu­nity for our young peo­ple”. “The new 16 & 17 and 26to-30 rail­card will cut fares for a gen­er­a­tion of trav­ellers, en­sur­ing more young peo­ple than ever will be able to travel on our rail­ways for less,” he says. “To­day’s an­nounce­ment ... could cut the cost of travel by hun­dreds of pounds a year for young peo­ple and their par­ents.

“This builds on the roll-out of the new 26-to-30 rail­card and our record in­vest­ment into our rail­ways, en­sur­ing peo­ple get the fre­quent, af­ford­able and re­li­able jour­neys they de­serve.”

Emily Yates of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Bri­tish Com­muters said pas­sen­gers were be­ing “pushed to the brink” by fare rises and what was needed was a ma­jor over­haul of the en­tire in­dus­try and not just “piece­meal” so­lu­tions.

She said: “It is a time of cri­sis, and the proper re­sponse would be to freeze fares and sus­pend the award­ing of new fran­chises while a proper, in­de­pen­dent re­view takes place that must con­sider pub­lic own­er­ship and non-profit so­lu­tions. With the May timetable col­lapse, the whole sys­tem has been proven rot­ten.”

COM­MUTERS are now pay­ing al­most £800 more for their sea­son tick­ets than they did in 2010, ac­cord­ing to Labour anal­y­sis, after av­er­age rail fares in­creased nearly three times faster than wages.

Fares went up by an av­er­age of 3.1 per cent across the board to­day, de­spite train-ser­vice punc­tu­al­ity be­ing at a 13 year low.

Rail cam­paign groups de­scribed the lat­est fare rise as “an­other kick in the wal­let” for pas­sen­gers.

Chris Grayling, the Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port, has an­nounced mea­sures to make train travel more af­ford­able for young peo­ple through the in­tro­duc­tion of a new rail­card for 16 and 17-year-olds, while also ex­tend­ing an ex­ist­ing dis­count to in­clude peo­ple up to the age of 30.

He has pledged to do “ev­ery­thing I can to cut the cost of rail travel for as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble” and the Gov­ern­ment has hailed the fact that since 2014 fares have, on av­er­age, re­mained be­low the an­nual in­fla­tion cap.

Min­is­ters want to see lower fares in the fu­ture, with a root-and-branch re­view of the rail in­dus­try ex­am­in­ing af­ford­abil­ity for pas­sen­gers and re­forms due to be im­ple­mented in 2020.

But Mr Grayling is un­der grow­ing pres­sure to do more now to tackle the is­sue, with Labour de­scrib­ing “fall­ing stan­dards and ris­ing fares” on the na­tion’s rail­ways as a “na­tional dis­grace”.

Com­muters are un­likely to for­get a

2018 that was blighted by rail chaos after the dis­as­trous roll-out of a new timetable in May.

The state of the na­tion’s rail­ways re­mains a key po­lit­i­cal bat­tle­ground, with the Tories strug­gling to ef­fec­tively counter Labour’s call for na­tion­al­i­sa­tion – one of Jeremy Cor­byn’s most pop­u­lar poli­cies.

Labour has pub­lished an anal­y­sis of the cost of trav­el­ling on more than 180 train routes be­tween when the Con­ser­va­tives took power and the prices fac­ing pas­sen­gers to­day.

The party found the av­er­age com­muter

will now be pay­ing £2,980 for their an­nual sea­son ticket which is £786 more than in 2010.

Labour’s anal­y­sis also found some of the worst-hit com­muters will now pay more than £2,850 more to travel to work than in 2010 and that av­er­age fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages.

Andy Mcdon­ald, the shadow trans­port sec­re­tary, said: “To­day’s rail fare in­creases are an af­front to ev­ery­one who has had to en­dure years of chaos on Britain’s rail­ways.

“Fall­ing stan­dards and ris­ing fares are a na­tional dis­grace. The Gov­ern­ment must now step in to freeze fares on the worst per­form­ing routes.

“Labour will bring our rail­ways back into pub­lic own­er­ship so they are run in the in­ter­ests of pas­sen­gers, not pri­vate profit.”

Labour’s anal­y­sis found av­er­age fares

have risen nearly three times faster than wages. The party said that reg­u­lated rail fares, which in­clude sea­son tick­ets, have risen by 36 per cent on av­er­age be­tween 2010 and 2019, while weekly wages grew by 14 per cent.

In­creases in about 45 per cent of fares, in­clud­ing sea­son tick­ets, are reg­u­lated by the UK, Scot­tish and Welsh gov­ern­ments..

They are pre­dom­i­nantly capped at July’s RPI in­fla­tion fig­ure, which was

3.2 per cent, while other fare rises are de­cided by in­di­vid­ual train com­pa­nies.

Bruce Wil­liamson, a spokesman for the cam­paign group Rail­fu­ture, said: “After a ter­ri­ble year of timetable chaos, pas­sen­gers are be­ing re­warded with yet an­other kick in the wal­let.”

The lat­est punc­tu­al­ity data showed that one in seven trains were de­layed by at least five min­utes in the past 12 months, while anal­y­sis of his­tor­i­cal data re­vealed the per­for­mance in 2018

to be the worst since 2005. Writ­ing in The Daily Tele­graph, Mr Grayling said that the Gov­ern­ment had “ended Labour’s in­fla­tion-bust­ing price rises – which saw rail fares rise by as much as 7.5 per cent a year”.

“To­day, for the sixth year in a row, fares will rise with in­fla­tion, not above it,” he said.

The Trans­port Sec­re­tary in­sisted that 2019 “her­alds the start of a broader change for the rail­ways” as he dis-

missed Labour’s de­mands for na­tion­al­i­sa­tion. He said “who the rail­ways are run for is far more im­por­tant than who they’re run by” but con­ceded “it is now clear that the fran­chis­ing model can­not be the path for the fu­ture”.

Union lead­ers, politi­cians and cam­paign­ers are ex­pected to protest against ris­ing fares out­side sta­tions across the coun­try to­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.