Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne has spoken in the House of Commons for a change in the Government’s approach to transport policy.
Labour MPs forced an opposition day debate on soaring fares and bumper profits for transport companies, in which Mr Gwynne criticised the government’s policy of handing back the power of ‘flex’ to the train companies, which allows them to increase fares by another 5% above the regulated fare increases of RPI+1. Labour siezed this power off the companies in 2009 to control soaring fares.
Labour MPs have highlighted that David Cameron has broken his promise to cap the annual increase in rail fares at one per cent above inflation (4.2 per cent). As a result of his decision, passengers have this month seen the cost of their ticket rise by as much as 9.2 per cent.
Cameron’s decision to side with the private train operators against commuters shows he is desperately out of touch with the increasing pressures on household budgets.
The Campaign for Better Transport compared the cost of an annual season ticket into five major European capitals and discovered the sample UK ticket cost three and a half times more than the most expensive European one, and almost ten times (9.7) more than the cheapest one. (Source: Campaign for Better Transport report (December 2011) http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/media/30-dec-european-fares-rises.)
Following his speech, Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“David Cameron’s decision to side with the big train firms is a disgrace at a time when his Strivers’ Tax is already hitting low-paid households. Labour would be putting passengers first by banning train companies from increasing fares above the cap set by Ministers.
“While commuters could pay up to 9.2 per cent more every year under the Tories and Liberal Democrats, fares would be rising by no more than 1 per cent above inflation under Labour. Imposing the cap would be at the expense of private train company profits, not the taxpayer. We call on the Prime Minister to put people before profits, but his attitude is no surprise considering his Rail Minister Simon Burns spurns taking the train to work in favour of his £80,000 a year chauffeur-driven car.
“A rail system that allows private train companies to maximise their profits at the expense of passengers in a system that costs taxpayers £3.5billion every year is a railway that puts the wrong people first. It’s absolutely right for Labour to consider all options for reform to deliver a better deal for taxpayers and fare-payers.
“People in Denton and Reddish want to see their Government supporting them instead of making commuting to work a luxury few can afford. David Cameron should follow Labour’s lead and rule out these ‘Super Peak’ rail tickets, limit rail fare rises and stop putting rail companies’ profits ahead of the needs of hard-working commuters.”