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MP: Passengers should be 'front and centre'

The Shadow Secretary of State for Transport says rail passengers should be put front and centre of any changes to ownership.

Fare increases of around 3.5 per cent were announced today and bids have been placed by companies hoping to take over the Northern and First TransPennine franchises.

Mary Creagh MP spoke to Paul Brand about the changes:

Commuters react angrily to rail fare increases

The Government's has announced increases of three point five per cent - 1 per cent above the rate of inflation.

It means the annual season ticket from Hull to Leeds will rise by £140. The route from Grantham to York will rise by £87.

Rail users told ITV Calendar the changes could limit people's use of trains, but rail minister Claire Perry MP says passengers need to contribute to investment in the network:

Leeds and Sheffield to be included on 'world class rail network'

Train passengers in the North of England including the North East have been promised "a world-class rail network" as the Government announced the shortlist of companies that will run future services in the region.

Leeds and Sheffield to be included on "world-class rail network"

Three operators have been shortlisted for the Northern rail franchise and three for the TransPennine Express (TPE) franchise, with the winners due to be announced on October 2015.

The Campaign for Better Transport and the RMT transport union have expressed concern that rail services in northern England could be cut.

But announcing the shortlists, Rail Minister Claire Perry said the competing companies would be asked "to come up with innovative and ambitious proposals that will ensure a truly world-class rail network for the region".

The Government added that the franchise bidders would need to improve customer service and passenger satisfaction on the two networks which carry more than 110 million passengers last year.

The franchises connect passengers travelling into and between the key strategic cities of Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle, and onwards to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Those competing for the Northern franchise are Abellio, which is currently running Northern, Arriva and Govia. The three shortlisted for TPE are FirstGroup, Keolis and Stagecoach. FirstGroup and Keolis currently operate TPE in a joint venture.

The Government said bidders will be expected to show how they will make the most of the Government's £1 billion investment programme for the rail network in the North of England, which will provide faster and more reliable journeys, more capacity, better trains and improved connections for passengers across the region.

Claire Perry, Rail Minister Credit: Press Association

Building a railway that is fit for the 21st century is a vital part of our long-term economic plan, connecting businesses and communities, generating jobs and boosting growth, and we need strong private sector partners to help us achieve this ambition.

– Claire Perry, Rail Minister

The new operator will also be expected to work closely with Rail North, which represents the region's local authorities, to ensure that local rail users will have more influence in how their train services are run.

The companies on the shortlistsdemonstrate the interest there is in meeting Rail North's desire to see the railway acting as an economic driver in the North of England.

– Sir Richard Leese, Rail North

Rail fares to increase

Rail passengers will face average season ticket price rises of 3.5% in January following the announcement of the July inflation figures.

Train fares are set to increase

The new-year rises are based on the previous July's rate of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation plus 1%.

With the Office for National Statistics announcing today that the RPI rate for July 2014 was 2.5%, commuters in England will have to fork out an average 3.5% extra in January unless the Government, decides, as it did for January 2014, to keep the rate to RPI plus 0%.

Train companies also have a "flex" rule which allows them to increase some regulated fares by 2% above the average as long the overall average remains at the RPI plus 1% level. This means some fares could go up by 5.5% in the new year.

The rise was condemned by Labour, with shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh saying: "David Cameron has failed to stand up for working people struggling with the cost-of-living crisis."

The TSSA transport union said Conservative ministers had to stop the annual "persecution of millions of rail passengers with inflation-busting increases".

And the Campaign for Better Transport pointed out that fares have gone up by more than 24% since 2010, while wages had only risen by 6.9% over the same period.

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Rail travel 'out of the reach of ordinary people'

Rail travel is being pushed "out the reach of some ordinary people" by fare increases, the head of a public transport advocacy group said.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, told Good Morning Britain that Government-dictated ticket price hikes mean rail fares are rising four times faster than wages.

Commuters will find out how much rail fares are likely to rise by next year when the Retail Price Index (RPI) for last month is released today.

The annual increase is capped at July's RPI plus 1%, with an extra 2% added to some tickets.

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Rail fare rise a 'kick in the teeth' for passengers

The RMT union, which campaigns for the railways to return to public ownership, has said that next year's fare rise is a "kick in the teeth" for rail passengers.

With the “flex” rule passengers are facing fare increases of up to 5.5% at a time when wages are stagnating. People will simply be priced off the railways while the greedy train operating companies are laughing all the way to the bank. This is a kick in the teeth for the millions of British people who use our trains ... With Northern Rail already axing off-peak tickets, with others set to follow, we are once again ratcheting up the highest rail fares in Europe to travel on some of the most clapped-out and overcrowded services ...

– Mick Cash, RMT Acting General Secretary
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