Cost of rail travel will continue to rise

22 August 2007

Government plans to hike the price of train fares as a continuing policy to reduce rail subsidy have been questioned by the rail regulator.

Chief Executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), Bill Emery, said: “there remains the question as to whether the department’s policy on fares provides the appropriate level of protection for the consumer.” The ORR was reacting to a series of high profile fare increases.

The Government’s five year railway strategy, published last month, proposes a near doubling of the fare payers’ contribution to the cost of running trains. By 2014 passengers will foot three-quarters of the bill, rising from £5bn currently to £9bn, as the Government reduces its annual subsidy from $4.5bn to £3bn.

An ORR spokesperson said Mr Emery had not received a response from Dr Mike Mitchell, head of rail at the Department for Transport, after he wrote to him over a comment Dr Mitchell made saying people paying £5,000 for a season ticket should tolerate standing for 30 minute journeys. The ORR contacted him after an outcry from passengers on South West Trains. South West upped their prices by 20 per cent, claiming the increase was dictated by the Government’s franchise requirements.

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