Services, not prices, should increase, says GS

28 November 2006

Keith Norman said today that there should be increases in the number of trains rather than the cost of travelling on them. He was reacting to the news that season tickets will rise by 4.3% in January and rises of over 12% are predicted for some rail journeys. ‘If fare rises continue at this rate, people will be forced to use their cars for economy’s sake,’ he said. ‘We are in danger of building a railway for the rich,’ he said.

 

Keith was reacting to announcements that Virgin Trains will raise the cost of an open return from London to Glasgow by 8%, a standard open return from London to Plymouth on First Great Western will go from  £190 to £214 and a journey on Southeastern from London to Canterbury will jump from £19.90 to £22.10. There will be an average 4.7% increase on season tickets, cheap day returns and long distance journeys.

 

The operating companies and the government agree it is reasonable for passengers to pay for more of the cost of rail. A spokesman for Virgin Trains said, ‘If Virgin gets extra carriages then passengers have to pay for them.’ more capacity to accommodate demand but that comes at a cost," he added.  The Department for Transport said it expects fare-payers to foot a greater share of the bill for expanding the rail network through longer trains and platforms.

 

‘A decade ago our taxes subsidised the railways. Now we pay extra fares to do the same. The difference is that we used to own the industry and now we don’t. Now private firms decide what ‘product’ to offer us and the government stands impotent on the side-lines. Rail is no longer a service - it is a profit-making industry that charges passengers what it can get away with,’ Keith argues.

 

According to Passenger Focus, saver return prices will increase from January 2 are

  • Bristolto Edinburgh £119.80-£125 (Virgin Cross Country)
  • Londonto Glasgow £94.10-£98.20 (Virgin West Coast)
  • Londonto Weymouth £49.50-£53.10 (South West Trains)
  • Leeds to Newcastle £42.10-£43.90 (TransPennine Express)
  • Birminghamto Edinburgh £88.70-£92.50 (Virgin Cross Country)
  • Gillingham to London £18.10-£18.90 (SouthEastern)
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