I was up early this morning to join commuters on Thornaby Railway station. Alongside other Rail campaigners I talked to people about the news today of the latest hike in rail fares which will come into effect in January. Passengers were miserable at the news that annual season tickets have risen an eye watering 25% since 2010.
Let’s have a quick look at some of the latest rises:
Thornaby to Darlington - will cost £845 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £29 on last year
Thornaby to Durham - will cost £2043 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £71 on last year
Eaglescliffe to Darlington - will cost £746 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £26 on last year
Eaglescliffe to Durham - will cost £1948 a year from Jan 1st 2015 – up £68 on last year
Rail fares have risen faster than wages in every year. Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 10.7 per cent, meaning rail fares have risen more than twice as fast as wages under the current government.
New official figures out this morning are forecast to show that RPI inflation rose by 2.6 per cent in July. Regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – are allowed to rise by July’s RPI figure plus one per cent, and would therefore increase by 3.6 per cent in January 2015.
Last year I was on Darlington station to tell commuters that the East Coast line has shown the benefits of a publicly-owned railway by returning over £1bn to the taxpayer in the last five years – all of which will be re-invested in the service, instead of going into the pockets of company shareholders. If all the train operators were publicly owned, more money could be retained for higher investment in safety and better trains, as well as lower ticket prices. But despite the evidence, the government is pressing ahead with re-privatising the East Coast Main Line, even though two private companies previously failed to deliver.
Public ownership of our railways has widespread public support. A YouGov Poll in November 2013 found that 66 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of returning the railways to public ownership.
Speaking days before the news of the latest price hike, Ed Miliband said that “a Labour government would cap annual fares on every route and drive through the biggest reforms of the railways since privatisation."