Alarm at rail fare increases

John Denham, Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, has expressed alarm at today’s news regarding retail-price inflation and the effect it will have on rail fares for Southampton’s commuters. 

Inflation figures confirm that current RPI figure (Retail Price Index) is currently 3.2%.  This means regulated rail fares are set to increase on average by 6.2%, with train companies allowed to add another 5% on top.

That’s because the Tory-led Government changed the formula they use to regulate rail fares.  Instead of using a formula of RPI +1%, like the previous Labour Government, they increased this to the current formula of RPI +3% after the last General Election.

Labour believes that train companies should not be allowed to increase fares by more than one per cent above inflation across their routes.  Hard-working commuters are already being hit by other cost of living increases in their everyday lives while their salaries remain the same.

Mr Denham said:

“Living costs are rising and hard-working families are finding it hard to make ends meet.  For many the daily commute is now their biggest household bill.  It’s time for the Tory-led Government to do something to help Southampton’s many commuters.

“Those already spending over £4,000 on a season ticket from Southampton Central to London are likely to be hit hard by these increases if they go ahead.  Quite simply, the Tory-led Government should not be increasing fares using its current formula, which puts fares at 3% above inflation. It is far too high.  Train companies should not be allowed to increase ticket prices by any more than one per cent above inflation across all routes.”

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, added:

“This is a government that puts the wrong people first. David Cameron’s decision to side with the powerful private train operators against commuters and passengers shows he is desperately out of touch with the cost-of-living crisis facing many hard-working families.

“At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, Ministers have decided not only that fares should rise by three per cent above inflation, but also told the train companies that they can add up to another five per cent on top. That means many fares will rise by as much as eleven per cent – for three years in a row.

“Labour would be putting passengers first by banning train companies from increasing fares above a strict cap of one per cent above inflation across all routes. So while commuters could pay up to eleven per cent more every year under the Tories and Liberal Democrats, fares would rise by no more than one per cent above inflation under Labour.”

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