The Great British Rail Rip Off continues as 2014 Rail fares in the UK went up yesterday. Strange timing as some season tickets are now so expensive it’s enough to make even Santa weep. A Reading to London season ticket, a journey of 43 miles, now costs £4,088 per year a rise of £128. A Maidstone to London season ticket, a journey of 37 miles has smashed through the £4k mark and now costs £4,080. Fares are still rising THREE times faster than wages are. We need Fair Fares Now.
Regulated fares are up by an average 3.1% and as usual, the private rail operators are free to raise unregulated fares by much more. It’s a world away from the ‘fares freeze’ we were promised before Christmas. In fact, as new research from the TUC shows, Britain’s railways remain the most expensive in Europe, and by some way. Here, commuters spend three times more of our salaries on rail fares compared to other rail passengers in Europe. Action for Rail, a trade union-backed campaign, said workers on an average UK salary would spend nearly 14% of their wages on a monthly season ticket commute from St Albans to London, whereas a commuter making comparable journeys in Germany and France would spend about 4%. The figures in Spain and Italy were 3% and 1% respectively, said the group. Which? said its analysis showed that the average household now spent 14% of its income on transport.
Take St Albans to London, for example. A monthly season ticket costs £299, but a comparable ticket in Germany costs £107, in France £96 and in Italy just £28!
The situation has prompted Frances O’Grady from the TUC to remark:
“Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service that has failed to deliver any of the efficiency, investment and cost savings that privatisation cheerleaders promised.”
Jason Torrance, policy director of sustainable transport organisation Sustrans, said commuters would still feel the effects of the rise.
“The chancellor’s move to bring an end to the inflation-busting fare rises we’ve seen over the last decade shows a recognition that rising transport costs are a barrier to economic recovery,” he said. “But commuters will still feel the pinch this new year because salaries aren’t increasing by anywhere near the level of inflation. If transport remains so prohibitively expensive, we will continue to restrict travel choices and opportunities to access essential services and employment.”
Rail campaigners were at London King’s Cross station on Thursday, alongside Aslef train drivers’ union leader Mick Whelan and RMT transport union head Bob Crow, calling for public ownership of the railways. More than 50 Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, Plaid Cymru and SNP MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for the renationalisation of the UK’s railways.
You can also go to http://actionforrail.org/ to tell your local MP exactly what you think about the fares increase. If you can take just two minutes, it will make a big difference.
It is time that the #hardworkingpeople so touted by the Conservatives rebelled against this pernicious tax on employment and economic opportunity in Britain.