THE AVERAGE commuter is now paying around £600 more for a season ticket that at the start of a decade.
As increased rail fares come into force today, analysis of ticket costs has shown the rising price of travelling to work including an increase of up to 30 per cent on many the region’s routes.
The Labour party looked at prices on nearly 200 routes and found that some commuters are even paying more than £2,000 more to travel to work than in 2010.
Nationally the highest increase was a season ticket on Virgin Trains between Birmingham and London Euston, which will cost passengers £2,172 more in 2017 than 2010.
In Yorkshire, a season ticket for Leeds to Yorkshire has gone up from £1,756 to £2,232 and from Hull to Leeds from £3,328 to £4,224, Sheffield Meadowhall to Leeds is up from £1,940 to £2,452.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: “Passengers have faced truly staggering fare rises of over £2,000 since 2010. In some cases, commuters are paying 43 per cent as a direct consequence of decisions made by ministers.
“Fares have risen more than three times faster than wages and passengers on some routes have also been hit by ‘stealth fare rises’ of up to 162 per cent.
“Passengers were always told that higher fares were necessary to fund investment, but vital projects have been delayed by years and essential maintenance works have been put on hold.
“The truth is that our heavily fragmented railways mean that it takes years longer and costs much more than it should.”
Public transport campaigners said commuters faced “another kick in the teeth” from the increased fares.
Lianna Etkind, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The fare rises are another kick in the teeth for long-suffering rail passengers. Many experienced a less frequent and more overcrowded service last year, and now they are required to pay more for the same this year. The whole fares system is completely unfair and it’s high time the Government overhauled it.”
Christopher Hyomes, from Pontefract, director of communications at independent campaign group Railfuture, said faced with increased prices people could return to driving adding to the congestion problems in places likes Leeds.
“There is that possibility and I think it is one that everybody needs to be aware of, he said.
He added Virgin did not have a total monopoloy on the East Coast and with the fare rise people would look also at independent operators Hull Trains and Grand Central.
Railfuture say the country’s walk-on rail fares are already ‘the most eye-watering’ in Europe, and passenger growth is slowing for the first time in twenty years as people are priced off the railways.
The Government uses the previous July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation to determine increases in regulated fares, which was 1.9 per cent. Regulated fares are around 40 per cent of all tickets and include season tickets on most commuter routes and some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys. Train operating companies set the prices of other tickets but are bound by competition rules.
Bruce Williamson, of Railfuture, called on the Government to use the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) for regulated fare rises rather than RPI.
He said: “This is only 0.6 per cent which would be a much more reasonable fare increase. Inflation is set to outstrip wages in 2017, making rail fares even less affordable.”
According to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, around 97p in every pound paid by passengers goes back into running and improving services.
RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel to work and at the moment in some places people aren’t getting the service they are paying for. However, increases to season tickets are set by government. Money from fares is helping to sustain investment in the longer, newer trains and more punctual journeys that passengers want.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the Government was delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century and had to balance the cost between the taxpayer and the passenger.
Virgin Trains East Coast said there would be 10,000 more discounted fares every week.