Bending the rules: Lib Dems and Labour are on message.

Lib Dems unite with Labour to attack rail hike

Lib Dems unite with Labour to attack rail hike

By staff

Liberal Democrats and Labour teamed up to attack George Osborne today, after a new set of above-inflation rail hikes sparked despair in commuters.

Today's inflation figures put RPI at 3.2%, which in turn led to a 6.2% rise in regulated rail fares in January.

"Britain has the most expensive railway network in Europe, up to 30% more than our nearest competitors. Astonishingly, they still want to raise fares above inflation," the Lib Dem co-chair of the party's transport committee, Julian Huppert, said.

"People are struggling to make ends meet against a backdrop of wage freezes and rising utility bills. George Osborne has to realise that people cannot be expected to pay huge rises in rail fares on top."

The critical comments – and the choice of a non-government figure to make them – shows how keen the Lib Dems are to put pressure on the chancellor, even if that message chimes with Labour.

"At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, ministers decided not only that fares should rise by three per cent above inflation, but also told the train companies that they can add up to another five per cent on top," said Maria Eagle, shadow transport secretary.

"That means many fares will rise by as much as 11% – for three years in a row."

Protests are taking place outside several major rail stations today to highlight commuter anger at the fee rise.