Rail fare increase ‘a kick in the wallet’ for commuters

Commuters were faced with an announcement on their first day back to work following the festive period.

Those using the National Rail network will expect to see a 3.1% rail fare increase across England and Wales, and a 2.8% increase in Scotland.

Overall, some commuters could be paying £100 more for their season tickets, with rail campaign group RailFuture calling it a ‘kick in the wallet’ for the average passenger.

This is despite the rail network performing at a 13-year low, according to a recent analysis by the Press Association.

Recent research done by Labour also claims average rail fares have gone up three times faster than the average wage since 2010.

Despite this, the slew of train delays, union strikes and the controversial timetable change last summer have seen people question whether the price hike is justified.

One in seven trains also missed a punctuality test.

Commuters have taken to Twitter to express their outrage - and Labour campaigners are already hitting up train stations across England to protest.

On Good Morning Britain, Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: “We’ve got to invest in our transport infrastructure as a public service, not just an opportunity for people to take profits out of the system.”

Labour has also vowed to return the rail network to public ownership and prevent further franchising.

In response, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the rail companies were, in fact, losing money.

“Most of the big companies involved in the railways are struggling to make money. The reality is our railways are expensive to run,” he claimed.

He asserted the price hike was due to inflation as well as wage demands from the unions.

“People do need to understand the biggest upward pressure on fares does come from wage rises within the industry,” he said.

“The unions expect a higher wage rise than everyone else.”

The Transport Secretary promised a transformation of the national rail network over the course of 2019, with one his first moves to extend child railcards to 16-17 year olds, as well as starting a discounted railcard for 26-30 year olds.