Rail unions slam unfair fare hike

Unions have condemned the 3.4% rise in rail fares for January announced yesterday – the largest since 2013.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Passengers are paying the penalty fare for privatisation, a flawed and failing model that everyone in the rail industry can see doesn’t work. Hundreds of millions of pounds are haemorrhaging from our industry every year – money desperately needed to improve our infrastructure, to continue with electrification, and reduce passenger fares which are among the highest in the world.

“Once more passengers are being asked to pay more for a declining service. The franchise system means that passengers are attacked, the taxpayers abused, and the privateers are laughing all the way to the bank. They talk of risk and reward but there is no risk – it’s all reward.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The Tory law that meant inflation-linked rail fare rises were made legal is an ass. If your fare to work costs you say £10 a day, this increase means you are going to have to cough up nearly another hundred quid next year. Passengers are being bled dry to ensure our private train companies stay in profit. This Tory government is all about rail for the profiteering few. But our increasingly many British rail commuters desperately need fairer fares.

TSSA last week published a report in which we showed how in Scotland, taking ScotRail back into public control – it’s already in our ownership we just franchise it out to Dutch government company Abellio – would immediately reduce fares by 6.5%. And there would be ongoing annual fare reductions, not fare rises, as profits from fares become reinvested into the Scottish rail system rather than syphoned off to meet shareholder dividends. All indications are that the same pattern would apply if rail companies were brought back into public ownership south of the border.

“In Scotland, SNP Transport Minister Humza Yousaf is listening to what TSSA is saying and now considering how to break Abellio’s grip on the franchise. If his Tory counterpart for England and Wales, Chris Grayling were open to running rail in the interests of people south of he border, he would have accepted my request to meet him more than a year ago to take our union’s long and considered opinion on how to do rail better and help beleaguered passengers to a better, cheaper commute. I’m still waiting for a reply.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These fare increases are another kick in the teeth for British passengers who will still be left paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out, unreliable trains where private profit comes before public safety.

“For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this government these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife while the ‎private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”

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