Rail fares may go up 10 per cent in new year

Rail passengers face fare increases of up to 10 per cent in January and further huge rises in the coming years because of cuts in subsidies to train operators which will be announced this week, a leading union claims.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said it had been briefed by Whitehall sources that the annual fares cap formula, which would have limited increases to under six per cent in the new year, will be suspended.

Under the current formula, annual fares increases are limited to the July Retail prices Index inflation figure, which was 4.8 per cent, plus one per cent.

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But because of big cuts in the Government subsidies given to the private train companies, the formula will not apply this year, with passengers being asked to pay more, the union said yesterday.

General secretary Gerry Doherty said: "Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is taking a big gamble by allowing the private train companies to increase fares by up to 10 per cent in January.

"He will be committing political suicide if he scraps the fares price cap altogether next year and allows the rail companies the freedom to charge what they like, when they like.

"The commuters of the South East who put the coalition into power in May will throw them straight out again in 2015 if they are faced with year-on-year increases of 10 per cent.

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"We already have the highest rail fares in Europe and the most expensive railway, which taxpayers subsidise to the tune of 5bn a year.

"Rather than pricing hard working families off the railways ministers should be looking at running a publicly owned, affordable railway like they do in France, Germany, Spain and Italy."

Details of the exact impact on fares will be left to each company to announce next month.

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