March 12 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, January 2, 2014
On the day that fares increased by an average of 3.1%, the TUC-backed Action for Rail (AfR) campaign has produced new figures showing British commuters pay much more than those on continental Europe.
Fares for similar-length journeys in Germany, France, Italy and Spain only cost a fraction of those in Britain – and the TUC said passengers would get a better deal of the industry was re-nationalised.
The call comes on the day that the cost of an annual season ticket from Ipswich to London goes up by 2.7% – crossing the £6,000 threshold.
Meanwhile members of the Green Party lobbied travellers using Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds railway stations, urging travellers to support moves to re-nationalise the rail industry.
The Green Party’s group leader on Suffolk County Coucil, Mark Ereira, was at Bury station and said passengers were sympathetic to the call.
He said: “There are some services, like transport and the health service, which are better provided by the state than by private businesses – and I think people are coming to realise that.”
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rail passengers and taxpayers are being poorly served by a privatised rail service.
“While the shareholders of the private train operating companies are doing well for themselves on the back of massive public subsidies, passengers are paying the highest share of their wages on rail fares in Europe.
“Rail passengers must wonder why they can’t have the same cheap and more efficiently run state rail services that exist elsewhere in Europe.”
South Suffolk Conservative MP Tim Yeo said it had always been the principle of governments of all sides that in Britain rail passengers should cover as much of the costs of providing the service so those who used the trains were not being too heavily subsidised by taxpayers who did not.
He added: “Since privatisation there has been a significant increase in the number of passengers, so it is not putting off travellers.
“However when fares go up, passengers do expect to see improvements so they feel they are getting something for their extra money.
“That is why East Anglian MPs have been pressing so hard for investment in the line from London to this region – and why that campaign will be continuing in the future.”
As well as season tickets, off peak tickets have also gone up today in the latest round of government-set fare rises.
Another report, this time from the Campaign for Better Transport, said that by 2018 the government will be making “a profit from passengers.”
By then fares revenue will cover 103% of the operating costs of the railways, up from 80% in 2009, said the report by consultants Credo.
It added that by 2018 the Government’s share of funding the railways will have fallen to just 20%, down from 38% in 2009.