Rail Fares September 2016
I appreciate and share the concerns of passengers who are once again facing increases on their rail fares this year.
Indeed, this latest announcement that regulated fares in England and Wales will rise by 1.9% from January 2017 confirms that rail fares will have risen by 25% in the past six years, while average weekly earnings have only grown by 12%, meaning that fares have risen over twice as fast as wages over the last six years.
I believe the Government have completely failed to appreciate the impact these fare rises are having on household budgets and that passengers will rightly resent paying higher fares to travel on trains that are increasingly overcrowded and unreliable.
The link between higher fares and investment has been also broken, with commuters not seeing the improvements they were promised. The Government has also delayed important rail upgrade projects such as the electrification of the Midland Main Line to Nottingham and the TransPennine line between Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
I believe passengers deserve a fairer deal on our railways and that we need a transport system that delivers better value for money and gives passengers a real voice in how services are run. That is why I stood at the General Election on a manifesto that included plans to introduce a strict cap on fare rises on every route, a freeze in rail fares to provide relief to commuters while reforms are implemented, a new legal right for passengers to access the cheapest ticket for their journey and for there to be an urgent review of the Government's broken rail franchising process. I also strongly support allowing a public sector train operating company to compete with the private sector for rail franchises once again. It is time to prioritize passengers and not profit by renationalizing the railway.
I hope the Government now listen to the concerns that many passengers have raised about rising rail fares. It is also vital that the Government provide much needed clarity on how they will fund their election promise to cap rail fares across this Parliament.
I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on this important issue and that I will bear in mind the points you raise. Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.