Rail ticket prices ‘outstrip wages’

Commuters will find out how much rail fares will rise today.
Commuters will find out how much rail fares will rise today.
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LEEDS commuters will discover how much the cost of their season tickets will rise by today as new figures show rail fares have raced ahead of wages.

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Average regulated fares have risen by a quarter over the last five years while wages grew by just nine per cent, according to analysis by the trade union-backed Action for Rail campaign.

The Government is also being pressed to deliver on a promise to introduce season tickets for part-time workers which could save Yorkshire commuters hundreds of pounds.

Ministers have promised regulated rail fares will only be allowed to rise in line with inflation over the next five years.

Inflation figures for July published this morning will determine how much regulated fares - which includes season tickets - will rise in January.

But critics argue the move does not compensate for years when rail fares rose much faster than wages.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If Ministers really want to help hard-pressed commuters they need to return services to the public sector.”

But the rail industry insisted the groups’ figures on fare rises were not a fair reflection on the reality for passengers.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Attracted by discounts and better services, passengers have doubled in the last 20 years, helping to generate around £2 billion a year that train companies pay government to invest in a better railway.”

The RDG said passengers were taking advantage of advanced tickets so the amount they actually paid rose by 8.4 per cent.

The Campaign for Better Transport is calling for more help for part-time workers who use the train to get to work.

The Coalition Government set out plans two years ago to trial season tickets for commuters who only need them a few days a week.

The move would save someone commuting from York to Leeds four days a week around £400 a year compared to a traditional season ticket covering five days.

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

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