‘Enough is enough’ call after more fare hikes

Paul Nettleton says commuters have had enough of fare rises. Below: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
Paul Nettleton says commuters have had enough of fare rises. Below: Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

Commuters across the Fylde coast today told the Government “enough is enough” after another round of inflation-busting rail fare increases were announced.

Paul Nettleton, chairman of Blackpool and Fylde’s Rail Users Association, said residents in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have had enough of the increases, especially when not all cash recouped get reinvested into the industry.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

He said: “It’s the same old story, the increases are needed for investment in the industry.

“But rail fares are now getting out of hand. Enough is enough, especially when the Fylde coast will not see any benefits until at least 2016 when the Northern line is electrified.”

The Government yesterday announced rail users face an average increase of 4.1 per cent – including on season tickets – from January.

This would see the price of an anytime return ticket from Blackpool North to Manchester Piccadilly rise from £20.70 to £21.55.

And monthly season tickets between Blackpool North and Manchester Piccadilly would rise from £291.10 to £303. 03.

Ministers say the rises will pay for investment in the rail network.

But trade unions, who organised protests at stations around the country yesterday, said this latest fare increase “is a kick in the teeth” and the only answer is for the rail network to be returned to public ownership.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, said: “This latest inflation-busting hike in fares is a kick in the teeth for the British people who are condemned for another year to pay the highest prices in Europe to travel on clapped-out, overcrowded and unreliable trains while the private operators are laughing all the way to the bank. Anyone who thinks that this massive fares surcharge will be invested in our railways needs their head examined.

“The stone cold case for public ownership of our railways to end this racketeering is now overwhelming.”

Chris Dale, chairman of campaign group TravelWatch North West, said: “If the services matched up with the price passengers are paying the response to rail fare increase wouldn’t be so bad.

“But with the promise of improvements keep being pushed back, like the Blackpool to London line, it is not fair commuters have to keen paying increased prices.

“If you look at Scotland they have been paying fare increases in line with inflation. So why is England being forced to pay inflation plus one per cent every year for at least the last decade?”

Train companies can vary regulated fares by up to five per cent above the average 4.1 percent rise, but fares that go up by more than the average must be balanced by others that rise by less or fall.

Spokesmen for Virgin Trains and Northern Rail said they did not wish to comment on fares as they had not yet decided whether fares would increase next year or by how much.

TransPennine Express were unavailable for comment.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said nobody liked paying more for fares but the Government was investing heavily in the railways.

“Running the railways is a very expensive business. The taxpayer overall is contributing a lot and I am afraid that the passenger has to make his contribution,” he said.

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