Passengers pay for rail investors
3 Jan 2013
Mick Whelan says only one group of people are getting value for money from UK rail – and that’s investors in private rail companies. ‘The ludicrous truth is that passengers and taxpayers are now subsidising rich investors who take massive profits from our industry,’ he says. ‘In the bizarre world of railway finance, the poor are now paying ever higher fares to subsidise the dividends of the rich.’
UK rail commuters have seen yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases. On average fares have increased by 3.9% - while some passengers have seen hikes of up to 10%.
Research published last month by the TUC’s ‘Action for Rai’l campaign shows that average train fares have risen nearly three times faster than average wages since the beginning of the recession in 2008.
‘To add to this injury, passengers face the insult of seeing ticket offices close and reduced staff on trains and stations – and last month we saw the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) calling on the government to scrap regulations that require passengers to be consulted over ticket office opening hours and station closures. The idea of rail as a service seems to have disappeared,’ Mick says.
‘Over a year ago, when he was the transport secretary, Philip Hammond warned that the cost of tickets was making the railways ‘a rich man’s toy’. Ever since then the government has stood idly by as fares have rocketed. Is this their solution to over-crowded trains – pricing the poor off the rails so the rich can sit comfortably?’
Mick called for an urgent review into how there can be balance between profits, service and the national interest.