Opposition anger as rail fares rise

Anger at Department for Transport as rail fares rise
Anger at Department for Transport as rail fares rise

The government was today accused of pricing people off the railways after it emerged train fares are set to rise by as much as 14 per cent.

Passenger groups and opposition politicians have condemned the price rises but train companies insist they are necessary to maintain investment in the rail network.

Fares regulated by the government will rise by an average of 4.8 per cent, due to Department of Transport (DfT) rules allowing train companies to hike fares by one per cent above the retail price index.

Unregulated fares, including cheap day returns and long-distance open and advance returns, will rise by 5.4 per cent on average, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has also announced.

Commuters travelling into London, especially from stations in Kent, will be the worst affected. A weekly season ticket from Ashford in Kent is set to rise by 10.5 per cent to £86.50 a week.

The Liberal Democrats said the price rises "defy belief" and would leave commuters wandering why they are paying more to be squashed onto packed trains.

Transport spokesman Susan Kramer said: "British rail passengers already pay more per mile than most the rest of Europe. Making travellers pick up even more of the bill is unacceptable.

"If the government really expects to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport, allowing these fares to rise is completely the wrong way to go about it."

Conservative transport spokesman Theresa Villiers said the government was pushing up train fares "in a bid to price people off the railways and disguise their own glaring failure to provide extra rail capacity."

She added: "Any move which tries to force people off the train and back into their cars is frankly crazy in an era when the need to get carbon emissions down becomes ever more pressing by the day."

ATOC said the additional revenue is necessary to maintain investment in the railways, blaming falling subsidies from the DfT.

George Muir, Atoc director general, said: "We are providing a higher-performing railway with new, refurbished and more punctual trains and better stations."

The Conservatives warned in the summer rail companies would be forced to put up prices after the DfT announced they needed to raise £1 billion by 2014.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.