Harrogate MP supports rail fare pledge

Harrogate’s MP has supported the Conservative pledge after commuters were told rail season fares will increase by one per cent in January following the release of new inflation data.

By Hollie Bone
Friday, 21st August 2015, 11:40 am
Commuters wait to board the train to Leeds at Harrogate Train Station.
Commuters wait to board the train to Leeds at Harrogate Train Station.

This week the Office of National Statistics reported RPI inflation was one per cent in July which is the figure used to set rail regulated fares.

The Government has promised regulated rail fares, such as season tickets, will only be allowed to rise to match increases in the cost of living over the next five years.

Junior minister for Department of Transport, Andrew Jones said: “During the recent election the Government pledged that regulated rail fares would not rise more than the retail price index over the lifetime of the Parliament. In July, RPI was 1 per cent and that is what fares are to rise by in January.

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“As well as fulfilling this manifesto commitment, this is in fact the lowest rise in decades. Furthermore, due to the increase in salaries, average wage growth is likely to rise faster than fares for the first time in over a decade.

“For every £1 spent on a fare 48 pence is invested in trains and tracks, 25 pence in staff costs, 11 pence into leasing trains, 9 pence in interest payments and 4 pence on fuel. Just 3 pence of every pound spent on a rail fare is profit.”

The Government has also removed the so-called “flex” from rail fares which allowed train companies to increase some regulated ticket prices as long as fares collectively stayed within the limit set by government.

However, Labour pointed out that the limit on fare rises comes after years of above inflation increase.

Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher, the Barnsley East MP, said: “It is clear that passengers are being ripped off – forced to pay ever higher prices to travel on trains that are increasingly overcrowded and unreliable.

“This announcement confirms that from January the cost of rail travel will have risen by a quarter under the Conservatives. Some hard pressed commuters will even have faced fare hikes of over a third since 2010.

“Out of touch Ministers talk about “fair fares for comfortable commuting”, but the link between higher fares and investment in the rail network has been broken and commuters are not seeing the improvements they were promised.”