Rail fares rose twice as fast as wages over past 10 years as prices go up again
Rail fares have risen twice as fast as wages in the past 10 years.
In the decade since 2009, fares for commuters have risen by 46%. But the average weekly wage has only risen 23%, according to a TUC analysis of official figures.
The shocking revelation by the TUC comes as commuters returning to work today have been hit with a 2.7% rail fares rise.
And the trade union body says the increase cannot be justified when the private rail companies have paid out more than £1.2billion in dividends to shareholders in the past five years.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working people have had enough of over-crowded and unreliable services.
“The number one priority should be running a world-class railway service, not subsidising shareholders.
“No more excuses – the government must end the failed privatisation and put trains back in public ownership. This would free up money for much-needed upgrades and lower ticket prices for working people.”
Some British commuters are spending seven times as much on train season tickets as counterparts in Europe.
TUC research also shows someone on an average salary travelling from Chelmsford in Essex to London will have to fork out 16% of their pay for season tickets (£511 a month).
But comparable commutes would cost a mere 2% of the average salary in France, and 4% in Germany and Belgium.
Pressure group the Campaign for Better Transport is pressing for a full reform of the rail fares system.
Darren Shirley, CBT chief executive, said: “Rail passengers are tired of rising fares and broken promises. “Only total reform will start to restore passengers’ faith in the rail network, and ensure the railways are more affordable and better value for passengers.”
The Government sets the January fare increase using July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) level – which critics say is a discredited and out-dated statistic.
If the more appropriate Consumer Price Index (CPI) had been used to set fare increases, regulated fares – including season tickets and standard returns – would have risen by 2.1% today, according to the CBT.
Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We know that no-one wants to pay more to travel, and rail companies have, for the third year in a row, held average fare increases below inflation while continuing to deliver investment in new trains and extra services that will improve journeys for customers.
“In 2020, we will work together to run 1,000 extra services a week and roll out 1,000 more train carriages as we replace half the country’s train carriages.
“We will also continue to push for changes to regulations that would make rail fares match how people work today and tackle crowding on the busiest long-distance routes.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) is expected to publish a white paper based on the findings of the Rail Review in the coming weeks.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy Mcdonald said: “Today’s average fare increase of 2.7% means ticket prices have risen by 40% since 2010. It shows that this government is not serious about supporting either public transport or tackling climate change, road congestion or air quality.
“In contrast, rail fares in Germany were cut by 10% yesterday. Labour pledged to cut rail fares by 33% to encourage people to get out of their cars and get on the train.’
“Following years of broken promises and cuts to investment and services passengers are once again paying more for less under the Tories.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a new fund will be created to support trials of more flexible fares across the country as part of passenger improvements.
The first will take place on Govia Thameslink Railway services and will give passengers on certain routes the opportunity to buy better value tickets aimed at part-time workers.
Further trials across Britain are then planned.
The Department for Transport is expected to set out reforms of the railways in a white paper, delayed from the autumn because of the election.
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