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Rail Fare Increases and Rail Privatisation

I share the concerns of passengers who once again face increases on their rail fares. The announcement that fares have risen by an average of 1.1% from January 2016, confirms that fares will have risen by a quarter since 2010, and the cost of some season tickets will have risen by as much as nearly 40 per cent - leaving passengers paying thousands of pounds more in some cases than just five years ago.

The Government have completely failed to appreciate the impact these fare rises are having on household budgets and that passengers will rightly resent paying higher fares to travel on trains that are increasingly overcrowded and unreliable. Commuters were always told that higher fares would fund investment, but vital projects have been delayed for years.

Passengers deserve a fairer deal on our railways and we need a transport system that delivers better value for money and gives passengers a real voice in how services are run. I hope the Government now listen to the concerns that many passengers have raised about our railways.

On the structure of the railways, Labour’s policy is for all existing franchises to be brought back into public ownership when they come to an end. The new public operators will then be able to reinvest profits into cutting fares and rail infrastructure. This will help to deal with the currently fragmented network and a broken franchise system recalling that twenty years ago we were told that privatisation would deliver cheaper tickets and lower subsidies. In fact what we have been left with is some of the most expensive tickets in Europe and an efficiency gap of 40%, and that’s why we need a change of approach.

 

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

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