Look in the Mirror

02 January 2014

Mark Ellis writes:

'British train passengers will be spending THREE TIMES more of their salary on rail travel than commuters in other European countries, a study reveals today.

'The bad news comes as millions returned to work after the festive break and face yet another train fares rise.

'And Chancellor George Osborne’s claim to be sympathetic to hard-pressed rail passengers by pegging season ticket rises to an average of 3.1% is also exposed as a sham.

'Fares, which go up from between 3.1% and 5.1% today, are rising more than FOUR TIMES average wage increases and adding misery to families feeling the squeeze on living standards.

'And independent research has revealed that the Tory-led Coalition hopes to be making a profit from passengers by the end of the next Parliament in 2020.

'A study by the TUC and Action for Rail highlights how passengers using Britain’s privatised rail services are paying through the nose compared to their counterparts using publicly-owned railways in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

'The research found that a worker in the UK on an average salary is now spending nearly 14% of their monthly wages on a £299 monthly season ticket from St Albans to London St Pancras.

'However, in mainland Europe workers making similar journeys in Germany and France spend around 4% of their salary on train fares, in Spain 3% cent, and in Italy just 1%.

'Campaigners blame privatisation for saddling hard-pressed British commuters with the highest fares in Europe, despite a £3bn public subsidy.

'Research by campaign group Transport for Quality of Life shows that extra costs of over £1bn a year are being run up by a combination of debt write-offs, dividend payments to private investors as well as administrative and legal costs.

'The group estimate that fare cuts of up to 18% could be made if these costs were eliminated by bringing services back within a nationally-integrated railway under public ownership.

'More than 50 MPs have now signed a parliamentary motion calling for the re-nationalisation of the UK’s railways.'

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