Fares to rocket and jobs to be cut in the great train shake-up

Network Rail may be broken up as leaked review outlines drastic measures to cut £5bn subsidy

Millions of rail passengers face misery under dramatic plans to allow fares to rocket while closing ticket offices and firing on-board staff, The Independent on Sunday has learnt.

Leaked documents reveal that a government rail review will suggest that ticket pricing is too complex, too subsidised, over-regulated and inadequate at managing rush-hour demand. It sets out plans to slash staff numbers while proposing the decentralisation of Network Rail and its possible break-up.

Ministers risk angering the public and facing a stand-off with unions if they press ahead with the proposals, being drawn up by Sir Roy McNulty, the former chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, who has warned that annual state funding for the industry of £5bn is unsustainable.

In a detailed presentation of his Rail Value for Money review, seen by The IoS, Sir Roy paints a bleak picture for passengers if the railway's finances are to be reformed. It warns that industry costs are a "major problem" and need to be reduced by up to 35 per cent to match competitor countries in Europe. The industry has to give a "better deal" to both passengers and taxpayers.

In a workshop last month with senior industry figures, Sir Roy set out the early findings of his study, to be published next month. He told the seminar that "staffing on trains and in ticket offices can be significantly reduced", while "changing terms and conditions, especially for drivers, will reduce costs". The report will recommend that ministers launch a comprehensive fares review, with the aim of "removing or allowing more flexibility in relation to caps on fares".

"Some fares are much lower than the market could/should bear," Sir Roy's presentation said. Walk-on fares on peak services could be banned. Only those with season tickets or booked seats are able to travel on the very busiest services.

A Rail Delivery Group will be set up by the industry to focus on cutting costs and making best use of existing capacity. It will call for longer franchises for train-operating companies of up to 15 years and "more freedom to set fares". Sir Roy also advocates "deregulation of ticket office opening hours balanced by the introduction of modern technology", raising the prospect of more barriers and card machines at stations. A similar plan for the London Underground by Mayor Boris Johnson provoked a wave of strikes on the Tube.

Bob Crow, general-secretary of the RMT rail union, vowed to "fight this attack on jobs, safety and service quality every step of the way".

The study identifies barriers to efficiency, including "unproductive relationships" with the unions, the structure of Network Rail and too much government interference.

Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, insisted that the Government recognises that there is an issue with over-crowding at peak periods and is investing in a new high-speed network to triple capacity between London and Birmingham.

"We're very clear that the whole purpose of the McNulty review over the medium term is to get a better deal for taxpayers and fare-payers by reducing the cost of our railways."

Maria Eagle, the shadow transport secretary, warned: "It's clear that the Tory-led government plans to embark on a dangerous experiment by breaking up Britain's railway infrastructure. Yet more fragmentation isn't the answer; neither should passengers be expected to take on yet more of the cost when they are already seeing household budgets squeezed by the eye-watering fare rises ordered by ministers."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'