Outrage as train fares rise by 10% in three years

As passengers face another rise in rail fares, when will there be a clearer link between ticket prices and reliability?
As passengers face another rise in rail fares, when will there be a clearer link between ticket prices and reliability?
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Commuters in some parts of Yorkshire will see their annual season tickets inch towards the £2,500 barrier next year, after another round of rail fare increases was unveiled today, to almost universal condemnation.

A rise of 2.8 per cent, matching July’s Retail Price Index measure of inflation, means that fares will have risen by around ten per cent since 2017.

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

The widely expected announcement was greeted with outrage at the region’s busiest station, with some passengers suggesting that prices should be falling to reflect the quality of the service.

James Ellis, who travels between Leeds and Sussex, branded the rise a “shambles and a disgrace” and called the trains themselves “atrocious”.

Meanwhile, campaign groups repeated their call of the last two years for fares to be linked instead to the lower Consumer Prices Index – which was revealed to be only 2.1 per cent.

The latest round of increases, which takes effect in January, means that an annual ticket from York to Leeds, on any route, will go up by £66 to £2,450.

Commuters between Hull and Howden will have to pay an extra £58, making their cost for the year £2,138, and those from Harrogate to Leeds will pay £46 more.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, admitted he was “not delighted” about increasing fares. He said: “The truth is we do now have a situation where average wages are going up faster than inflation, so if you don’t keep this tracking with inflation you are effectively putting less money into transport and less money into trains and you won’t get them running on time doing that.”

But at Leeds Station, one traveller said the cost of his £7.20 daily fare was equivalent to the money he was paid for an hour’s work.

Ciaran Miller, a charity fundraiser from Otley, said: “So one hour of my day is taken off every day, just to come to work. The fares have gone up, but my wages haven’t.”

Fellow commuter Tom Hartshorn added: “I can’t see the service getting any better, and I can’t see that I’m going to get any value for money after the increase.”

Labour, which wants to renationalise the railway, accused the Government of having “sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people’s pay has been held back”.

The Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald, said: “Every year commuters are being asked to pay more money for bad train services.”

But the pressure group, TaxPayers’ Alliance, said nationalisation would mean an increase in taxpayer funding that would disproportionately benefit high earners. Its research director, Duncan Simpson, said: “Anger should be directed at the real culprits, Network Rail.”

The passenger watchdog Transport Focus said fewer than a third of rail commuters were satisfied with the value of their tickets. Its director, David Sidebottom, said: “Rail operators still have a great deal to improve.”