Passengers pay price of privatisation

2 Jan 2016

Today’s rail fare increases are a consequence of rail privatisation, says Action for Rail – a campaign by the rail unions and the TUC.

The 1% increase today in season ticket prices and other regulated fares will mean that the cost to commuters has risen by 25% over the last five years. The government announced plans to cap annual increases in regulated rail fares at the Retail Price Index measure of inflation for this parliament. However, the public finance the fare cap by paying their taxes. The capping of rail fares will cost taxpayers around £700 million over the next five years, according to Department for Transport figures. The TUC says that far bigger savings could be passed onto passengers if services were run by the publics ector. Research commissioned by Action for Rail shows that £1.5bncould be saved over the next five years if the routes up for renewal were returned to the public sector.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “People across the UK have once again been hit by a rise in rail fares. This year’s increase shows how privatisation means higher fares for commuters while private train companies continue to rake in the cash."

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “It’s crystal clear to those of us who work in the rail industry that privatisation – an ideologically-driven decision taken twenty years ago – hasn’t worked. It’s a flawed and failed model. It’s time to bring the railways back into public ownership where every penny and every pound can be spent investing in our transport infrastructure rather than disappearing into private pockets."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Profiteering and exploitation on Britain's creaking rail network is a national scandal. Passengers are left paying through the nose to travel on unreliable and over crowded services. Meanwhile, vast profits are being bled from our railways with huge amounts siphoned off by European state rail companies to subsidise their own domestic rail operations. It's about time we had a British state rail operation run in our interests."

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "Passengers paid more than £9 billion in fares last year. Some passengers are now paying a huge proportion of their family budget just to get to work but instead of being respected, they are packed into carriages like sardines."

Unite national officer Bobby Morton said:"David Cameron makes the claim that he is on the side of 'the strivers', but, yet again, he kicks commuters in the teeth in allowing rail increases. Privatisation has meant a profit bonanza for private rail companies and continuing financial pain for rail travellers."

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