The announcement that rail fares will rise again in January 2016 means that passengers in Oldham East and Saddleworth will be hit by a cost increase of 24 per cent since 2010.
The new fare rises will come into effect on 2nd January 2016. Figures released this week (18/8/15) show that the cost of an annual season ticket from Greenfield to Huddersfield will have risen since 2010 by £316, to a whopping £1,628. This is for a journey of seven miles that takes just 21 minutes and is already wildly overpriced given the failure of the Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire transport authorities to agree an affordable cross-border fare policy.
Earlier this year, David Cameron said that higher rail fares were necessary to fund improvement projects, which were promised in the Conservative manifesto. But, just weeks after the general election, key rail investment projects were then cancelled.
It is vital that the Government does not break its election promise to passengers as they have done over the electrification of lines in the Midlands and the North.
And this comes on the back of Rail Minister, Claire Perry, being criticised last year for saying that passengers should ‘start to realise that they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.’
Instead of talking about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting,’ Ministers should try commuting on our rolling stock and see how comfortable it really is!
This just goes to show how the Conservatives are failing to put passengers first. The latest announcement on fare rises means that the cost of season tickets are putting real pressure on household budgets, not just in Oldham East and Saddleworth, but across the UK.
Is it any wonder that overall passenger satisfaction has declined since 2010 especially as, in some areas across the country, commuters have faced ‘stealth fare rises’ of up to 162 per cent?
Rail users travelling from Greenfield are paying more and more each year to travel on increasingly overcrowded and unreliable trains. The cost of rail fares has risen much faster than wages and promised investment projects are not being delivered.
Government Ministers may say that this is a fair deal for passengers but this is a world away from the services people are having to put up with.
At the last election, Labour called for the fares and ticketing system to be simplified, for a legal right to the cheapest fare and a strict cap on fare rises on every route, and for passengers to be given a say over how the railways are run.
One of the reasons I’m backing Andy Burnham to be the next Labour leader is because his vision is to ensure there is proper and accountable public control of the railways, with passengers’ interests put first.
He’ll create a new ‘National Rail’ governing body to end the fragmentation of privatisation. It will ensure that passengers experience a truly unified rail and ticketing system across the country.
Andy believes that, as with the East Coast Main Line, a public operator will show it can compete, and beat, private operating companies. By proving its success, the public operator will allow for the progressive re-nationalisation of the railways. He’ll conduct a major review of rail investment priorities and campaign for high-speed West to East train links to deliver the connections that are needed to boost the economies of our northern cities, and to improve routes through the South West to Cornwall.
That’s the kind of radical shake up our rail system needs and Andy is the man with the vision and strength to make it happen.