Dearer fares huge mistake says rail union

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Raising train fares to solve the rail industry’s problems would be a “huge mistake”, a transport union leader warned yesterday.

Increasing fares for journeys at certain times was one of the recommendations in Sir Roy McNulty’s report on rail costs to which the Government will respond tomorrow.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA union, said that in the Government response, Transport Secretary Justine Greening was expected to allow train companies to charge more for off-peak fares immediately after morning and evening peak travel times.

Mr Cortes went on: “We already have the highest fares in Europe and the Secretary of State will be making a huge mistake if she believes the industry’s problems will be solved by allowing the private train companies to make even more money at the expense of passengers.”

The McNulty report also recommended changes to ticket office hours and staffing.

Yesterday, the TSSA said it was launching a Save our Stations campaign to stop the possible axeing of 675 smaller ticket offices across England and Wales.

Mr Cortes said: “If the local booking office goes, then the station itself will not be far behind it.

“Justine Greening must reject the siren voices of the train companies which want the freedom to close one in four of all booking offices.” He said “hundreds of stations in rural areas” faced the threat of long-term closure, adding that “an unmanned station is a less safe station, particularly for the elderly and young women travelling alone at night”.

Mr Cortes added: “The introduction of ticket machines will mean higher fares, because the machines dispense fewer and more expensive tickets than a booking office.”