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
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.”