Rail fares rising faster than wages, says report

A train leaving Havant train station
A train leaving Havant train station
  • Report says increase in fares is almost three times the average wage increase
  • TUC says price increases are leaving commuters out of pocket
  • But MPs say government has frozen regulated costs and will be looking to improve quality of services
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RAIL commuters are out of pocket following a rise in fares, a report has said.

A study by the Action for Rail campaign showed that rail fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages over the past five years.

South West Trains, which runs services from Portsmouth to London, is particularly bad when it comes to value for money.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

The difference in increases has left commuters ‘seriously out of pocket’ according to Trade Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady. Regulated fares went up by 25 per cent while average pay went up by nine per cent.

Mr O’Grady said: ‘Rail fares have rocketed over the last five years leaving many commuters seriously out of pocket. If ministers really want to help hard-pressed commuters they need to return services to the public sector.

‘This is a fair, more sustainable option and it would allow much bigger savings to be passed on to passengers.

‘Introducing an arbitrary cap on fares is simply passing the bill on to taxpayers.

‘The government wants the public to subsidise train companies’ profits and bear the cost of the fares cap.’

Government plans to cap annual rises in regulated fares will cost taxpayers around £700m over the next five years, but bigger savings could be passed on to passengers if train services were run by the public sector, said the report.

But Havant MP Alan Mak said: ‘The government is backing Havant’s taxpayers and commuters by freezing regulated rail fares, including commuter season tickets. We’ve banned train companies from raising regulated fares by more than inflation which is a popular and welcome step.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said it was also important to deal with the quality of the service as well as the cost.

‘Now the costs have been frozen for regulated fares, the next thing I am looking at is the quality of the service,’ she said.

‘South West Trains, which runs services from Portsmouth to London, is particularly bad when it comes to value for money.

‘Companies can, in my view, be providing a better service.’

Passengers say more needs to be done to help out

TRAIN passengers say more needs to be done to stop the increases in fares.

People who use the trains regularly say they have noticed fares have risen on a regular basis.

For many of them, it’s their way getting to and from work.

John Norris, from Reading, uses the trains to travel to Portsmouth for work. He has to catch the Reading to London train daily and twice a week, he has to go to Portsmouth.

The 48-year-old said: ‘The Reading to London line is one of the most expensive trips.

‘The government definitely need to do more to help. I know they have to spend money on other things but they need to invest in the rail too.’

Tim Dilks, from Petersfield, gets a third off with his rail card. But he said the increases still affect people’s livelihoods.

‘Rail cards help but if you don’t have one, I can see how the increases would be a struggle.’

Bryan Clark, from Portchester, added: ‘Fares are expensive and with the cost of living also increasing, it would be nice if travel prices could decrease.’