Fare rises will continue until 2019 to fund £37bn rail investment

National Rail also announce 4,000 jobs will go in the same time frame

The spectre of annual above-inflation fare rises until the end of the decade hung over £37.5 billion plans unveiled today to run and expand the railways.

Network Rail (NR) said its plans assumed the annual RPI inflation plus 1 per cent formula would be in place throughout 2014 to 2019.

There was further discouraging news for passengers when NR announced its trains-on-time target for 2014-19 would not be an improvement on the 2009-14 target of 92.5 per cent which it is failing to meet.

Gloom also deepened when NR said it planned to axe nearly 4,000 jobs by 2019, although it hoped that compulsory redundancies could be kept to a minimum.

And NR chief executive Sir David Higgins sounded a further ominous note when he said the rail industry had entered an "era of trade-offs" and had to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs.

To be approved by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), the NR plan comes just days after regulated fares, which include season tickets, went up by an average of 4.2 per cent - to a widespread chorus of disapproval.

The NR plan provides for 170,000 extra morning commuter seats at peak times by 2019 including 115,000 - a 20 per cent increase - on services into central London.

NR also envisages 225 million more passengers per year travelling by 2019 and 355,000 more trains in service.

Projects include various electrification schemes, such as the Great Western and Midland Main Lines, station improvements at Birmingham New Street and Reading in Berkshire, and reopening 31 miles of railways in Scotland closed under the Beeching cuts 50 years ago.

NR group strategy director Paul Plummer said they were making an assumption that annual fare rises would stay at RPI plus 1 per cent.

He said altering the annual fare formula was a matter for government and that if a government wanted to make changes it would need to increase the public subsidy to the railways.

The subsidy is set to fall during the five-year period, from £4.5 billion in 2009 to between £2.6 billion and £2.9 billion in 2019.

So receiving less money from the farebox would mean this subsidy rate of decline would slow.

With the Government committed to laying more of the burden of rail costs on farepayers rather than taxpayers, there seems little likelihood of ministers embracing any plan to limit fare rises if that means subsidies for the railways continue at high levels.

On the question of the unchanged 92.5 per cent trains-on-time target for 2014-19, NR said: "We want to do better than that, but we are facing up to some problems that come with success - that is, more trains and more passengers on an increasingly congested network.

"Even the smallest delay at busy times can cause a ripple effect which disrupts passengers several hours later, hundreds of miles away."

NR's trains-on-time total for 2009/10 was 91.5 per cent, with 90.8 per cent being achieved in 2010/11 and 91.6% in 2011/12.

This compares with a figure of only 79.2 per cent in 2002/03.

A total of 174,636 trains were cancelled or more than 30 minutes late in 2011/12 compared with 256,328 in 2002/03.

NR is set to have 34,583 employees by April 2014 and the company said this figure was expected to go down by 3,974 to 30,609 by 2019.

The company said as it had a staff turnover of around 8 per cent, or 2,700 per year, it expected to be able to lose the vast majority of these posts through natural wastage and voluntary redundancy.

Sir David said: "As our railway gets busier the challenges get bigger and more complex. We have entered an era of trade-offs.

"Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made."

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "We aim to build on today's near record levels of customer satisfaction by combining the best of the public and private sectors to provide newer trains, quicker journeys and more seats."

Anthony Smith, chief executive of rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said: "Passengers will welcome the fact that Network Rail and train companies are working together on a plan to deliver passenger and Government priorities - more trains on time, and more seats.

ORR chief executive Richard Price said: "Ministers have shown huge faith in what the railways can add to Britain's society and economy, committing to around £20 billion-worth of public money at a time when there is little money to go around.

"Key to maintaining rail's success will be openly justifying this significant commitment of public money.

"Taxpayers significantly fund the railways, and have every right to see where this money is being spent."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "While we support any plans to expand and invest in Britain's railways, you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity while at the same time the Government is looking to axe key frontline staff on trains, track and stations."

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "We obviously back rail investment to improve the service but passengers have already suffered enough pain with a decade of annual inflation-plus fare increases.

"They should not now be expected to face another six years of even higher fares."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own