Rail fares to rise as chaos continues

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has delivered yet another slap in the face for local commuters who have been facing weeks of #RailFail.Northern trains tickets

He is now demanding that hard-pressed commuters pay again for falling standards with even higher prices.

Regulated rail fares will rise by 3.2 per cent in January 2019, based on this month’s inflation figures. That will mean that fares have risen by 36 per cent under the Tories – three times the rate of average wage growth.

The government is increasing fares by the Retail Price Index rather than the lower, more accurate measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram has called for fares to be frozen on services failing to deliver acceptable services to passengers, including Northern and TransPennine. I agree.

However, Chris Grayling has demanded that staff pay for the chaos by agreeing new contracts that would limit their future pay increases to the CPI measure of inflation. That is a disingenuous distraction designed to shift the focus away from the desperate state of rail services here in the North West.

On Sunday August 12 rail operator Northern cancelled 80 services, including trains on the Liverpool to Manchester Airport line used by families and others travelling to and from summer holidays. It was the third successive week of similar Sunday cancellations.

Passengers into Liverpool will be expected to pay on average £110 more per year for an annual season ticket, £91 for those travelling from Southport and across key routes into Manchester city centre stations passengers can expect a £45 increase.

Liverpool commuters can’t afford the cost of higher fares and falling standards.

A 2019 fares freeze would at least recognise the level of disruption over the past few months and compensate passengers for the delays in planned service upgrades. A fares freeze could also help attract back passengers to the railways who have been put off by recent disruption. I will be pushing the government in this proposal when Parliament resumes in two weeks’ time.