Rail fare surge branded ‘unfair and unjust’ by unions and city leaders

City leaders and unions are up in arms over rail fare increases
City leaders and unions are up in arms over rail fare increases
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CITY leaders and union bosses have branded today’s latest hike in train fares as ‘unfair, unjust and unwarranted’.

Ticket prices will go up an average of 3.4 per cent – the biggest surge since 2013, covering unregulated fares such as off-peak leisure tickets.

While season tickets have increased by 3.6 per cent on average.

The news comes amid the ongoing dispute between rail unions and the government which saw strikes grind services across the south to a halt on New Year’s Day.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, former leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the fresh rise was poorly timed.

He said: ‘This is unfair on commuters. At the moment the government is not doing what it should to sort this dispute. They need to pull their fingers out and end this dispute – not rise prices.’

Rail union RMT claims the increase would push many commuters to the brink, with those on average earnings now expected to spend between 10 and 20 per cent of their take-home pay on train travel.

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, said this was unacceptable and vowed he would lobby the government for action.

The Labour MP said: ‘This year’s fare rise is the highest for five years. At a time when wages aren’t increasing, and there’s real frustration from Portsmouth commuters about this.

‘Our nation’s rail system is too fragmented and complex and run for the profit of private enterprises, not in the public’s interest. That’s why we need a better deal for our rail.’

Unite officer Bobby Morton said: ‘Millions of commuters are being held to ransom by the greedy privatised rail companies.

‘Rail travellers, who are seeing their wages lag far behind this fare increase, are being asked to take another hit to their incomes to pay for expensive and often unreliable trains.

The Department for Transport said the money would be pumped back into the nation’s rail network.

A spokesman added: ‘We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.

‘This includes the first trains running though London on the Crossrail project, an entirely new Thameslink rail service and continuing work on the transformative Great North Rail Project.

‘We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway.’