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North West Metro Mayors demand price freeze on rail fares in 2019

Photo: PA

Metro Mayors in the North West of England have written to the government demanding a price freeze on all rail fares before 2019.

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram are calling on the Secretary of State for Transport for action over Northern and TransPennine services.

It comes after a summer of disruption on rail routes across the region - where timetable changes led to frequent delays, cancellations, and staff shortages.

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Traditionally future rail fare increases are set using the July rate of RPI, which is published in August and comes in to effect the subsequent January.

This year the July rate of RPI is expected to be announced on, or around, 13 August.

This weekend saw another round of cancellations on services in the North. Credit: PA

In their letter to Chris Grayling, Mayors Burnham and Rotheram say: “Over the past few months travelling by train in the North has become a lottery, where passengers turn up at stations with no idea if there will be a train or whether they will arrive at their destination on time.

This crisis has caused real damage to the North – the current estimate is that at least £38m has been lost from the economy – and has led to many commuters turning their backs on using the train and seeking other means of getting around.

– Metro Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool
Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. Credit: ITV News

The Mayors argue that a 2019 fares freeze is proportionate given the disruption on both networks over the past few months and the delays in planned service upgrades.

They also believe a freeze could help attract back passengers to the railways who have been put off by recent disruption.

Speaking about the letter, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The rail industry has caused real misery for thousands of passengers across the North. Not only have people lost time at work or with their families, they have had to shell out for taxis, extra childcare and even hotel bills because of the continuing disruption.

“To ask these long-suffering passengers now to pay even more for a poor, unreliable service is to add insult to injury. A freeze in the current fares is the very least that passengers deserve.”

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