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Let the Train Take the Gain

Rail fares set to rise by 3.6% next year, warns TUC

 

by  19th August 2014, 8.30 BST

Action for Rail ticket_closeup

 

Rail fares for season tickets and other regulated fares are set to go up by 3.6% on

 

average from January 2015, the TUC and rail unions warn today as the Action for

 

Rail campaign protests against rail fare rises and calls for public ownership of our

 

railways at train stations across the country.

 

Next year’s wage-busting fare hikes will mean that rail fares will have increased

 

by 24.9 per cent over the current parliament (2010 to 2015), and have risen

 

faster than wages in every year. Over the same period, average earnings have

 

increased by just 10.7 per cent, meaning rail fares have risen more than twice as

 

fast as wages under the current government.

 

New official figures out this morning are forecast to show that RPI inflation rose

 

by 2.6 per cent in July. Regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – are

 

allowed to rise by July’s RPI figure plus one per cent, and would therefore

 

increase by 3.6 per cent in January 2015.

 

Analysis of season ticket prices for popular commuter routes across England show

 

that some fares are set to increase by over £100 in 2015. For example a season

 

ticket from Reading to London is set to increase by £147 to an eye-watering

 

£4,235; Plymouth to Exeter St. David’s could rise by £111 to £3,203; while Stoke

 

on Trent to Birmingham New Street could rise by £102 to £2,934. The TUC has set

 

up a rail fare rise projector – ­available at www.tuc.org.uk/railfareprojector2015

 

to show how regulated fares have increased since 2010.

 

Additional flexibility means that some regulated fares could even increase by up

 

to 5.6 per cent (RPI plus three per cent). This means that some annual season

 

tickets costing more than £4,000 could increase by more than £200 from 2014 to

 

2015.

 

The TUC believes that passengers are being short-changed by wage-busting rail

 

fare rises. Passenger Focus surveys show that only 45 per cent of rail passengers

 

believe that the services they use provides value for money.

 

In 2012/13 train operating companies collectively received £1.3bn in direct

 

subsidies through franchise receipts and a further £3.9bn in indirect subsidy

 

through investment in Network Rail services. In return, train operating companies

 

paid back just £1.2bn in franchise payments to the government, but they took

 

£172m in profits and paid out £204m in dividends to shareholders.

 

By contrast, the East Coast Main Line has shown the benefits of a publicly-owned

 

railway by returning over £1bn to the taxpayer in the last five years – all of which

 

will be re-invested in the service, instead of going into the pockets of company

 

shareholders. If all the train operators were publicly owned, more money could be

 

retained for higher investment in safety and better trains, as well as lower ticket

 

prices. But despite the evidence, the government is pressing ahead with re-

 

privatising the East Coast Main Line, even though two private companies

 

previously failed to deliver.

 

Public ownership of our railways has widespread public support. A YouGov Poll in

 

November 2013 found that 66 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of

 

returning the railways to public ownership.

 

The rail unions and the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign is marking today’s inflation

 

figures with protests at more than 40 train stations across the country.

 

Campaigners will hand out postcards at stations including London King’s Cross,

 

Leeds, Liverpool Lime Street, Edinburgh Park, Bristol Temple Meads, Newcastle,

 

Sheffield and York.

 

The postcards will call on MPs to put people before profits and return our railways

 

to public ownership. A full list of train stations is included in the notes to editors.

 

A photo op will take place today (Tuesday) at the new entrance to London Kings

 

Cross station (opposite St. Pancras station) between 8-8.30am, where Action for

 

Rail activists protesting the fare rises will unfurl a banner and hand out campaign

 

postcards to passengers. If you would like to attend the photo op, or any of the

 

station protests, please contact the TUC press office on 020 7467 1248.

 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s grim news for commuters that

 

they face yet another year of fare hikes above inflation, while their wages keep

 

dragging behind inflation. The cost to passengers of the failed privatisation of our

 

railways keeps growing year on year. We’ve ended up with slower trains and

 

higher fares than countries who have kept their trains in public hands.  It’s time

 

to stop private companies profiteering from our railways and to make sure that

 

passengers and taxpayers’ money is reinvested to improve our services. The only

 

way to do this is to bring our railways back under public ownership.”

 

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said:

 

“Privatisation of the railways – a wheeze by John Major which even Margaret

 

Thatcher, the arch advocate of privatisation, described as ‘a privatisation too far’

 

– has left us with a fragmented system which is all about making a private profit

 

at public expense. We believe in a much better business model for a modern, 21st

 

Century railway in Britain. We believe the railway is a public service which should

 

be publicly-owned, publicly-accountable, and publicly-run.”

 

Mick Cash, RMT Acting General Secretary, said: “Not only are passengers being

 

lined up for an inflation-busting increase in their fares but we now have the

 

scandal of the government colluding with Northern Rail to abolish off-peak tickets

 

solely in the name of increasing profits. You can bet your life that other train

 

companies will seize on the move by Northern Rail to abolish off-peak fares,

 

clobbering the travelling public with a double-whammy that will hit them hard in

 

the pocket while the train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”

 

Tony Murphy, Unite National Officer, said: “Twenty-one years of privatised rail has

 

failed Britain’s travellers at every level. Soaring rail fares and overcrowding has

 

been the price of privatisation for commuters. But while the public suffers,

 

taxpayer subsidies have helped many private companies cream off very big

 

profits. Until the railways are brought back into public ownership private

 

companies will continue to milk the paying public for all it’s worth.”

 

– See more at: http://union-news.co.uk/2014/08/rail-fares-set-rise-3-6-next-

 

year-warns-tuc/#sthash.pPNamJzd.dpuf

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