More fare misery for rail commuters

Northern Rail.
Northern Rail.

Rail commuters after facing another blow to the wallet after train fare rises of up to 2.5 per cent came into effect today (Friday).

The latest increase has angered passengers, who insist they are not seeing improvements to services despite some tickets rising by 30 per cent over the last five years.

Fares across all routes have been topped up by an average of 2.2 per cent, although for some season tickets the rise is higher with the average Northern Rail passenger paying 2.3 per cent more for their journey.

Martin Abrams from the Campaign for Better Transport said: “Everyone who relies on the trains for work or leisure is looking for action to end the price hikes and get fares down. The Government should start by reforming the discredited way it calculates future commuter fares and get on with introducing part-time and flexible season tickets, where progress has been mind numbingly slow.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the rises were necessary to help improve the rail network.

“We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation since the Victorian era and fares have a crucial role to play in funding these improvements.

“This is because building better infrastructure helps create jobs, building a stronger economy for us all.”

A season ticket from Dewsbury to Leeds for three months now costs £293.60, while a pass from Morley to Manchester over the same period of time will now set commuters back £868.

Paula Sherriff, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Dewsbury said: “David Cameron is presiding over a rip-off railway in Britain. He has failed to stand up for working people in Dewsbury struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and has allowed the train companies to hit passengers with massive fare rises of over 20 per cent since 2010.

“Out-of-touch Ministers talk about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting’, but this is a world away from the reality for millions of hard-up commuters living in Dewsbury.”

Northern Rail, which operates the Leeds to Manchester Victoria service which passes through Morley, Batley, Dewsbury and Mirfield defended the increase, insisting it would only equate to an average of 10 - 20p extra per journey.

A spokesperson said: “Money raised through fares goes on to invest in improvements to stations, trains and services. This includes investment in routes across the north which leads to newer trains and faster journey times.

“Our customers will also benefit from improved communication at stations, more ticket buying opportunities and upgraded facilities including the first on-train Wi-Fi project in West Yorkshire. During this short franchise, over £6million will be invested to improve facilities for our customers.

We will, as always, continue to work with the Government and the wider rail industry to drive down the cost of running the railway so it can provide long-term value for money for passengers and taxpayers.”