date: 12 August 2013
embargo: 00.01 Tuesday 13 August 2013
Rail fares are set to to be 40 per cent higher from this January than in 2008, the TUC and rail unions warn today (Tuesday) as the Action for Rail campaign protests against rail fare rises at train stations across the country.
Next year's wage-busting rail fare increases - the sixth time in seven years that fare rises have outstripped wages - will mean that rail fares will have increased by 40 per cent since between January 2008 and January 2014. Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 15 per cent, with rail fares rising nearly three times faster than wages.
New official figures out this morning are forecast to show that RPI inflation rose by 3.3 per cent in July. Regulated rail fares - which include season tickets - are allowed to rise by July's RPI figure plus one per cent, and would therefore increase by 4.3 per cent in January 2014.
An additional five per cent flexibility means that some season tickets could actually increase by around nine per cent in the new year, while unregulated fares could increase further. Average earnings are forecast to rise by just 2.4 per cent next year.
TUC analysis shows that some season tickets have increased by over £1,000 since 2008. A Reading to London zone 1 season ticket is set to cost £4,904 next year, up from £3,710 in 2008. The TUC has set up a rail fare rise projector - available at www.tuc.org.uk/railfareprojector - to show how regulated fares have increased since 2008.
The TUC believes that passengers are being short-changed by wage-busting rail fare rises. Passenger Focus surveys show that less than half of rail passengers think that the service provides value for money.
While train company revenues continue to increase, little of this benefits of passengers, says the TUC. Recent research commissioned by the TUC shows that investment by train operating companies in trains and stations is minimal, with the average age of rolling stock increasing since rail privatisation.
Rail privatisation is costing taxpayers £1.2bn a year as a result of fragmented services, higher costs of borrowing and money leaking out of the service in the form of profits and dividends, according to research by Transport for Quality of Life. Their analysis also showed that eliminating this £1.2bn-a-year wastage could result in an 18 per cent cut in rail fares across the board.
The TUC's Action for Rail campaign is marking today's inflation figures with protests at train stations across the country.
Campaigners will hand out postcards at 47 stations across the country, including London Paddington, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly.
The postcards will call on calling on MPs to put people before profits and return our railways to public ownership. A full list of train stations is included in the notes to editors.
A photo op will take place at the new entrance to London Kings Cross station (opposite St. Pancras station) today between 8-8.30am, in which an Action for Rail banner will be unfurled and postcards handed out. If you would like to attend the photo op, or any of the station protests, please contact the TUC press office on 020 7467 1248.
TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: 'Every year hard-pressed rail commuters have to hand over an ever greater share of their earnings just to get to and from work.
'Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements either. Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies.
'You only have to look at the nationalised East Coast mainline to see that public ownership of the railways not only works, it provides a better deal for passengers and taxpayers alike.
'Ministers must put evidence before ideology, halt the privatisation of the East Coast mainline and look at bringing our railways back into public ownership.'
Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said: 'ASLEF condemns soaring fares for passengers - just one of the increased costs of privatisation we are all suffering - which is driving more and more people into transport poverty.
'The increased costs of travel, and the inability of some people now to afford to travel, contrasts very sharply with the increased profits made by the privatised train operating companies, and the money they are taking out of Britain's railways, which should, of course, be a public service in the public sector.'
TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: 'Rail fares have now more than doubled since the Tories voted to privatise the railways in 1993, one of the many disasters visited on the country by the hapless John Major.
'We now have the most expensive fares in Europe with yet more increases on the way, and more annual inflation-plus rises over the next five years. When will the Tories stop punishing rail passengers for their own policy failures?'
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: 'While rail fares are rising by nearly 10 per cent the private train companies are in there stitching up secret franchise extensions with the government that are a one-way ticket to the bank for the shareholders who couldn't care less about passengers and staff.
'Passengers stuck for hours on broken down trains will be commonplace as maintenance schedules slide and the whole rail operation remains in the hands of racketeers and speculators. The only solution is to renationalise lock, stock and barrel.'
Unite national officer for the rail industry Julia Long said: 'The current system of privately owned operators is haemorrhaging enough cash each year to cut fares by at least 18 per cent, without reducing staff or services. Yet every year we see fares soar way beyond the inflation rate.
'Such fare rises are piling even more pressure on hard pressed families and, for some, making it impossible to use the trains to get to work.
'Unlike the private rail firms, the publically-owned East Coast line has not been blessed with government-funded new trains, despite being shown to have the highest level of passenger satisfaction - achieved by costing the government less in subsidy each year.
'This demonstrates that a publically owned network works, but ministers have taken the blinkered and ideological step of putting it up for sale. This exercise is to do with putting profits into shareholder pockets - and nothing to do with an cost efficient and effective national rail system.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Action for Rail protests will take place at 47 stations across the country, including the following mainline stations:
Birmingham International, 0730-1700
Birmingham New Street, 0730-0900
Bristol Temple Meads, tbc
Ealing Broadway, 1700-1900
Edinburgh Waverly, 0800-0900
Glasgow Central, 0730-0900
Glasgow Queen Street, 1630-1900
London Paddington, 0800-1000
London Victoria, 0730-0900
Manchester Piccadilly, 0730-0930
Newcastle Central, 0730-0900
Southampton Central, tbc
- If you would like to find out whether there is a protest planned in your local area please contact the press office.
- Action for Rail brings together the TUC, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite to work with passenger groups, rail campaigners and environmentalists to campaign against cuts to rail services and staffing and to promote the case for integrated, national rail under public ownership. For more information please visit www.actionforrail.org
- The TUC's campaign plan can be downloaded from www.tuc.org.uk/campaignplan
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
- Congress 2013 will be held at the Bournemouth International Centre from Sunday 8 September to Wednesday 11 September. Free media passes can be obtained by visiting www.tuc.org.uk/media_credentials and completing an online form. Applications must be in by noon on Wednesday 28 August. Any received later than that will be processed in Bournemouth and will cost £75.
- Follow the TUC on Twitter: @tucnews
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued: 13 August, 2013