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North West commuters face even higher rail fares

There's anger after the region's main rail provider Northern Rail announced rises in fares which in some cases are higher than 100 per cent.

The company has introduced a new so-called ''evening peak'' which comes into operation at the time of the evening rush-hour on some services.

Critics say commuters are being treated unfairly.

Daniel Hewitt has this report:

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Rail passengers face massive fares hike

A Northern Rail service. Credit: Manchester Evening News

Some rail travellers face fare hikes of up to 162% from today following the axing of some off-peak fares.

The price rise affects some evening services run by the Northern Rail train company - increases that have been criticised by rail unions and campaign groups.

An £11 peak return from Rochdale to Wigan will apply to travellers on evening peak journeys, rising from the previous off-peak fare of £4.20 - a 162% increase.

And a Wigan to Manchester Piccadilly return rises from £4.20 to £9.10 - up 117%.

Announced in the summer, the increases come into effect just a day after Chancellor George Osborne, MP for Tatton in Cheshire, announced that he was knocking 1% off the January 2015 national commuter fare rise for England.

This means that regulated fares, which include season tickets, will be going up by 2.5% rather than the planned 3.5%.

The RMT union is marking the Northern Rail rise by launching a new wave of protests against the plans for the new Northern franchise and also for the new franchise for TransPennine Express.

The union says the rises are "a kick in the teeth for the travelling public" and a "taste of what's around the corner under the new franchises".

And the Campaign for Better Transport attacked the Northern rises, saying they would particularly hit part-time and shift workers.

"This fare increase threatens to make rail travel unaffordable to tens of thousands of part-time workers.

"Despite Government promises, there are no flexible tickets for the increasing numbers who work part time or anything other than traditional nine-to-five hours.

"Their only option is to pay for individual tickets, which will now be double the price on Northern Rail's most popular routes."

– Martin Abrams, Campaign for Better Transport

Northern Rail said it had heavily publicised the fare changes.

The company says the fare changes were being made after the Department for Transport asked the company to look at several options to help reduce subsidy as part of its current franchise agreement.

"The majority of customers who travel at peak times will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening and what options are available to them."

– Northern Rail commercial director Richard Allan.
Commuters at Manchester Piccadilly. Credit: ITV News

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: "The axing of off-peak fares is a savage kick in the teeth for people already struggling with the burden of low pay and austerity."

A Department for Transport spokesman said the changes would help build a "rail network that is better for the passenger and better value for the taxpayer".

"Such restrictions are relatively common on other parts of the network, including in the Merseytravel area, and we expect only a minority of passengers to be affected," he added.

Northern Rail passengers in Greater Manchester face fare rise of 162%

Norther Rail are scrapping some off-peak tickets Credit: Norther Rail

Passengers using Northern Rail services in Greater Manchester could face a 162 per cent rise in rail fares from today.

Off-peak tickets will no longer be valid on some evening services between 16:01 and 18:29.

Customers will now have to buy an Anytime ticket or delay their journey to avoid the rise.

The changes are being made after the Department for Transport asked Northern to look at several options to help reduce subsidy as part of its new franchise agreement.

The change to off-peak tickets is the only option that has been taken forward and will be used to reduce the cost of the railway to taxpayers by reducing subsidy to Northern.

Richard Allan, Commercial Director, Northern Rail said: “The majority of customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening.”

“We have consulted extensively with local stakeholders and with Passenger Focus on the detail of this change, which is part of our new franchise agreement that was announced in March.”

Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh MP gives her reaction to the rise.

Rochdale tops the fare dodging list

Northern Rail poster Credit: Northern Rail

Northern Rail has revealed there are more fare dodgers on the Rochdale to Manchester line than any other routes.

The rail company is launching a campaign to crack down on traveling without tickets across Greater Manchester.

Across Greater Manchester, there were 10,046 occasions where passengers were caught travelling on Northern services without a valid ticket last year.

876 of those journeys started at Rochdale, 635 at Guide Bridge and 622 at Ashton under Lyne, all of which have staffed ticket offices where customers can buy a ticket before they board the train.

In an attempt to reduce the number of people receiving fines for not buying a ticket, Northern has launched two online videos and a series of station and train posters showing two scenarios where someone takes something for free.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of Northern, explains: “We know from talking to our customers they have a real problem when they see others not paying for their journey.

We don’t want to see passengers get into trouble and want to make sure they understand the implications of taking a free ride.

“We hear all sorts of excuses from passengers as to why they don’t have a ticket – they don’t have any money or a conductor did not come down the train and sell them one.

It’s the passenger’s responsibility to buy a ticket, so they must seek out the conductor to get one or if that is not possible, then buy a ticket at their destination station.”

“We know that some of our smaller stations have limited opportunities to buy tickets, and we are investing in new ticket buying facilities and currently carrying out independent surveys across the network to gain information on how our customers want to purchase tickets.

This will allow us to continue to give our customers easy and varied opportunities to pay for their journey.

However, the highest number of journeys made without paying for them started at stations with open ticket offices and Ticket Vending Machines.”

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Trains update after derailment

Northern Rail has said trains into and out of Manchester will continue to be disrupted after a charter train derailed yesterday.

The following services will be subject to delays and disruption this morning:

  • Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Victoria services will start and terminate at Earlestown
  • Southport to Manchester Airport services are diverting into Manchester Victoria
  • Preston to Buxton/Hazel Grove services are cancelled until further notice
  • Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport services are cancelled until further notice
  • Kirkby to Manchester Victoria services will start and terminate at Wigan Wallgate
  • Southport to Manchester Victoria services will start and terminate at Salford Crescent

These services will run normally, though may be busier than usual:

  • Manchester Oxford Road to Liverpool Lime Street via Warrington
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackpool
  • Manchester Victoria to Wigan via Bolton
  • Manchester Victoria to Clitheroe via Blackburn

Rail replacement bus services will run from Manchester Oxford Road to Salford Crescent and from Manchester Victoria to Earlestown.

Passengers are also being advised to check with National Rail Enquiries before they travel.