Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has reacted with anger as 2019 has begun with an above average increases of over 3% in rail fares across England and Wales.
As commuters from across the country begin returning to work after the Christmas holiday period, they face above-inflation ticket price increases described by Gwynne as “completely unacceptable” following a series of well-documented delays and disruption throughout 2018.
The Northern Rail franchise, which operates services across the north of England, as well as Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise, which operates Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, have all introduced new timetables – across these franchises, around 15,000 trains have been cancelled or severely delayed.
The average fare increase outpaces the 2.6% rise in the average wage in 2018 and will add hundreds of pounds to the cost of season tickets for some rail passengers, and overall rail fares up 3.2%.
Fares have risen by 36% since 2010, more than two and a half times the rate of median wages. Since 2014, it has been Conservative Party policy to peg regulated fare rises to the Retail Price Index (RPI), which consistently over-estimates inflation by including mortgage interest costs and council tax, rather than the widely used Consumer Price Index (CPI). This policy has meant fares rise above inflation every year, becoming more expensive in real terms.
A Labour Government will cap regulated fair rises at CPI, using the money saved through bringing rail franchises back into public ownership to ensure fares rise no faster than inflation. This policy would save the average season ticket holder over £500 this parliament. By taking rail back into public ownership, we will accrue further savings that can be passed on to passengers. We will also be able to simply fares in a way that hasn’t happened under privatisation, making travel both simpler and cheaper.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“The rail network should work in the interests of everybody the length and breadth of the country, instead commuters continue to face disruption, delays and cancellations.
“With passengers coughing up over £10 billion a year in fares, as well as direct government investment paid for through taxation, commuters deserve better”