High fares exclude millions from rail travel says ASLEF

26 July 2005

ASLEF today criticised the four per cent train fares rise announced by the Association of Train Operating Companies and called for a new fares regime.

‘Railway travel is in danger of becoming a luxury item in family budgets. Britain needs a fares regime based on cheap, accessible mass travel for work and leisure.

‘The government should compel the train operating companies to introduce a national railcard that extends concessionary fares to the widest sections of the population.

‘Britain already has among the highest train fares in Europe’ said ASLEF acting general secretary Keith Norman.

‘These fare increases will make it even more difficult for millions of low paid workers, young people, pensioners and others on low incomes to use rail travel.

‘Railways perform a vital public service function. Their social value and beneficial environmental effect, their massive and hidden contribution to the country’s economy cannot be calculated on a crude cost accounting basis’ he said.

‘It is economic idiocy to expect fares income to pay for the massive investment in rail that decades of neglect have made necessary.’

Background

The Association of Train Operating Companies has said that from Sunday 2nd January 2005, regulated fares (e.g. season tickets and saver tickets) will rise on average by 4%.

Different train operators will increase by and average of 4 per cent most unregulated fares for example cheap day returns, long distance open and advance purchase fares.

Regulated fares are fixed according to a fares regime introduced by the Strategic Rail Authority in June 2003. This permits a rise of Retail Price Index (RPI) plus one percent based on the July RPI figure, which in 2004 was 3%.

ATOC boss George Muir, has said "Fares have to rise to pay for the huge investment which the rail industry is currently making in the railways which is the fastest growing in Europe - new trains, better passenger facilities, improved customer information and more security at stations."

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