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 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.