Rail fare rises: Season ticket prices have soared by up to 50% since Tories took power in 2010, Labour reveals

Train travel branded ‘unaffordable for the many’ – with commuters paying up to £2,539 more than at the start of the decade

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
@Rob_Merrick
Tuesday 02 January 2018 01:05
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Biggest rail fare increase in five years hits commuters

Rail commuters are paying up to £2,539 more for annual season tickets than when the Conservatives came to power, it is revealed today – as prices rise again for the new year.

Labour said train travel was now “unaffordable for the many”, highlighting huge price hikes since 2010 in the constituencies of Theresa May and other key cabinet ministers.

Worst hit are passengers between Birmingham and London Euston, who will now be paying £10,567 for a Virgin Trains season ticket – up a staggering £2,539 since the start of the decade, Labour said.

It means the cost has soared by 32 per cent since the Conservatives entered Downing Street, far outstripping mostly-low inflation over the same period.

But even that hike is dwarfed by the 50 per cent leap in the cost of an annual season ticket between Tame Bridge Parkway, near Walsall, and Nuneaton, the largest uncovered by Labour.

Andy McDonald, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “The Tories’ failure on our railways means passengers have faced truly staggering fare rises of over £2,500 since 2010, with fares having increased three times as much as wages.

“Commuters have repeatedly been told that higher fares are necessary to fund investment, but promised investment has been cancelled and essential works have been delayed by years.

“Decisions taken by government ministers are making rail travel unaffordable for the many in favour of huge profits for the few.”

Today’s annual fare increases, tied to last July’s Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation, will see prices rise by 3.4 per cent on average, but with season tickets going up by 3.6 per cent.

Travellers buying off-peak, unregulated fares will be hit by even bigger rises of up to 10 per cent in some cases, according to analysis from watchdog Transport Focus.

Meanwhile, average pay rises were below 2 per cent last year and are predicted to remain low for most of 2018, leaving passengers worse off again.

Protests are planned by the rail unions for more than 40 railway stations, to mark the increases coming into effect as commuters return to work.

The next biggest price hike since 2010 uncovered by Labour, after the Birmingham-Euston route, is between Coventry and the same London station – £2,244, taking the cost of a season ticket to £9,340.

Commuters between Swindon and the capital will be paying £2,100 more (£8,740), while the cost of season tickets between Stoke-on-Trent and Milton Keynes has soared by £2,000 (to £7,320) and between Norwich and London by £1,952 (to £8,164).

In the Prime Minister’s Maidenhead seat, commuters to the capital must fork out £732 more than in 2010 (£3,092), in Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Weybridge constituency, the increase is £696 (to £2,968) and in Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s Epsom seat, season tickets are up £548 (to £2,228).

Mr McDonald said Labour would cut the cost by taking passenger services into public ownership, ending fragmentation, adding: “Instead, ministers are persisting with a failed model of privatisation that is punishing passengers.”

But a spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.

“We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.”

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