Protests Over Rail Fare Increases
13 August 2013, 06:31
Protests are being held at Newcastle train station over the increase in rail fares - up 40% in the last six years.
Campaigners say next January's rise will be the sixth time in seven years that rail fares have outstripped wages.
It's claimed between 2008 and next January rail fares will have jumped by 40%, compared with a 15% increase in average earnings.
The TUC and the Action for Rail campaign group will stage a series of demonstrations at almost 50 stations to mark the publication of the latest RPI inflation figure, which is used to calculate next year's rail fare rise.
Analysts predict that RPI will be 3.3%, which would see regulated rail fares increase by 4.3% in January, well above average wage rises.
The TUC warned that some season tickets could rise by 9%, against forecasts of a 2.4% increase in average earnings next year.
The union organisation said rail privatisation was costing taxpayers £1.2 billion a year despite "minimal'' investment in trains and stations.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said:
"Every year hard-pressed rail commuters have to hand over an ever greater share of their earnings just to get to and from work.
Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements either. Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies.
You only have to look at the nationalised East Coast mainline to see that public ownership of the railways not only works, it provides a better deal for passengers and taxpayers alike.
Ministers must put evidence before ideology, halt the privatisation of the East Coast mainline and look at bringing our railways back into public ownership.''
Unite national officer Julia Long said:
"The current system of privately owned operators is haemorrhaging enough cash each year to cut fares by at least 18%, without reducing staff or services. Yet every year we see fares soar way beyond the inflation rate.''
Campaign for Better Transport published research showing that rail fares are increasing nearly twice as fast as incomes, outstripping increases in wages by nearly 14% since 2007.