Rail fares are going up eight times faster than passenger satisfaction

The latest figures from Which? show fares are up by 54 per cent in a decade

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Indy Politics

Rail fares have increased dramatically over the last ten years – but passengers have only seen a tiny improvement in service.

Research by the consumer organisation Which? Shows ticket prices have surged by 54 per cent since 2006 but customer satisfaction is only up by 7 per cent.

The change comes amid a backdrop Government policy aimed at making passengers bear more of the costs of rail travel.

“Despite repeated claims that the railways are improving, passengers say that rail travel offers little more value for money than a decade ago,” the organisation’s executive director Richard Lloyd said.

“What's more, people have found even less of an improvement in the way train companies handle delays.

“This is an unacceptably slow pace of change, so the government must quickly now give the rail regulator the powers and duties it needs to be an independent consumer watchdog that can hold train operators to account."

The policies of successive governments have favoured people who drive instead of take the train. 

Figures released by ministers last summer found that between 1980 and 2014 the cost of motoring fell by 14 per cent, while rail ticket prices had increased 63 per cent.

The Government has repeatedly frozen fuel duty for motorists since coming to power in 2010 – despite repeated warnings that air pollution in urban centres is breaching legal limits.

Former transport secretary Philip Hammond believes the railways are a 'rich man's toy' (Reuters)

Labour says the railways should be brought back into public ownership to allow investment to be better directed and fares more effectively controlled.

In 2011 Transport Secretary then Philip Hammond described trains as a “rich man’s toy”.

The organisation has also lodged a complaint with the Office for Road and Rail arguing that it is too difficult for passengers to claim compensation when their train is late. 80 per cent of eligible passengers do not claim compensation, it said.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: 

“Overall satisfaction among rail passengers is up significantly, according to the latest independent survey by Transport Focus and by a large margin compared with a decade ago.

“But we know that we can do better to run more trains on time more often.”