Rail fare increases are ‘madness’ says GS

23 November 2010

Keith Norman, general secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF, has condemned fare increases of 6.2% from next January as ‘bordering on madness’. Some fares could rise by as much as 10.8%.

‘There is no rationale in the government one day saying it intends to encourage and promote rail and then allowing fares to rise by exorbitant amounts,’ he said. ‘The policy is supposed to be to entice more people to use rail. Fare increases like this drives them away. There is no logic.’

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has admitted that the median price increase will be five times greater than the 2010 increase of 1.1%. Increases in season tickets and off-peak long-distance journeys – about half of all fares – are pegged at the inflation figure for the previous July, which was 4.8%, plus one percentage point.

A spokesman for ATOC put the blame entirely on the government policy of ‘reducing the amount that taxpayers contribute and requiring passengers to pay more’.

‘The government says that it sees a social role for rail, especially in terms of meeting targets to reduce global warming,’ Keith says. ‘It can’t simply announce the policy and then wash its hands of all responsibility. It must step in to keep prices down.’

Keith also warns that worse is to come because of announced cuts of £5bn to annual rail subsidies in future years.

‘This is bad news for passengers, commuters, the industry and all who work in it,’ Keith says. ‘What kind of economic genius thinks you can stimulate and grow an industry by pricing customers away?’

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