From next January the train fares are expected to rise, in some cases by over twice the rate of inflation. This announcement created lots of outrage in the society, as the cost expected after the fare rise is about 5-6% higher, which is 3% more than the anticipated Retail Price Index measure of inflation. Of course this led to criticism by many organizations and unions. In addition to this it was made clear that the Rail firms will keep the right to increase some fares with up to 11%, with the only condition of being balanced out with reduced costs elsewhere.
The coalition has sought to reduce the burden on taxpayers and cut the deficit by reducing rail subsidies and allowing additional costs to be imposed on passengers instead, but some see it as a step too far. One of the greatest concerns for all passengers is that this increase is three times the rate of the average UK salary. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Commuters could see the price of their season ticket going up three times faster than their pay rise.
A campaign group called Action for Rail organised protests at Waterloo and some other stations today, targeting the increase in fare prices and the cuts to services and staff which are recently being made.
Frances O’Grady, the deputy general secretary of the TUC – which supports the Action for Rail campaign – complained that “Passengers are being asked to pay more to get less. We want cuts to rail fares, not rail staff.”
Shadow Treasury minister Rachel Reeves is against the measures: “These fare rises are unacceptable at a time when families are already struggling to make ends meet and wages are stagnant at best.”-she said.
Justine Greening, Transport Secretary thinks that the criticism being levelled at the government could lead to a change of policy. She hinted that by saying: “I am keen to see what we can do to keep rail fares down to something affordable. I shall be looking at whether there is a way of doing that in the autumn but we have to stick with our deficit-reduction policy.”
Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers said that the fare increases were necessary in the short-term to achieve the government’s long-term goal of bringing down the cost of running railways, which means the extra money got from the fare rise will help funding huge investment across the network. She also said that in the longer term they are determined “to get rid of these above-inflation fare rises all together” .
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