Rail commuters face hike in cost of travel

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Rail commuters will see the cost of getting to work rise today as train fare increases come into force.

Average rail ticket prices are going up by 2.2 per cent but passengers travelling from Headingley or York into the city centre are among those seeing bigger increases in their season ticket costs at 2.4 per cent.

Figures released by Labour today show how rail fares have increased much faster than wages over the last five years.

A season ticket between Leeds and Manchester cost £2,416 in 2010 and is now £2,980.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher said: “Out-of-touch ministers talk about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting’, but this is a world away from the reality for millions of hard-up commuters.”

But the increases were defended by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

He said: “We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation since the Victorian era and fares have a crucial role to play in funding these improvements. This is because building better infrastructure helps create jobs, building a stronger economy for us all.”

The Government has also ordered rail companies to make sure that passengers always have access to the lowest possible fare for their journey.

The move came after it was shown that passengers using self-service machines can miss out on fares offered at ticket counters.

Machines will eventually be expected to offer all fares but in a first step companies will be obliged to label them to warn passengers they may get a better deal by visiting the ticket office.

Michael Roberts, head of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “While industry research shows the vast majority of customers find the correct fare using ticket machines, we know there is more we can do to make them better.”

The promise on ticket machines is part of a new rail fare code of conduct to be overssen by the Office of Rail regulation.

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