1. ITV Report

Newcastle protest over highest rail ticket price rise in five years

Newcastle Central Station Photo: RMT Union

Rail passengers in the North East have been hit with the largest fare rise in five years on the first working day of 2018.

Protests have taken place at Newcastle Central in opposition to a national average hike of 3.4% as it came into effect on the first working day of the new year.

Labour claim fares have risen three times faster than wages since the Tories entered office as the dominant coalition power in 2010.

Many season tickets have shot up by more than £100 this year.

North East statistics:

Northern Rail customers face a 2.3% increase on an Annual Season ticket from Morpeth to Newcastle - up £24 to £1,088.

VT East Coast customers face a 3.5% increase on an Annual Season ticket from Durham to Newcastle - up £44 to £1,288

Plus 'anytime' fare on Virgin East Coast goes up 3.5% (£4.70) to £137.40

Campaigners call for fares to be frozen like fuel

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph accused the Government of choosing to "snub rail passengers" by continuing to raise fares while fuel duty is frozen for a seventh consecutive year.

The price hike - the largest since 2013 - was determined by the government using last July's Retail Prices Index measure of inflation to determine fares.

Bruce Williamson, of campaign group Railfuture, said "people are being priced out of getting to work" and called for for the Consumer Price Index inflation measure to be used for regulated fare increases.

The CPI is usually lower than the RPI, and is used by the Government to set increases in benefits and pensions.

"If CPI had been used instead of RPI since 2004, then rail fares would be 17% lower, a significant amount of money for season ticket holders who are spending thousands of pounds to get to work,” Williamson said.

"It's no wonder that poor value for money is the number one concern of rail travellers, with British rail fares amongst the most expensive in Europe."

Labour blame price rises on Tories

Labour said commuters are paying almost £700 more a year for season tickets than when the Tories entered office eight years ago.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said fares had risen three times faster than wages during the period.

What is the government's response?

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.

"This includes the first trains running through London on the Crossrail project, an entirely new Thameslink rail service and continuing work on the transformative Great North Rail Project.

"We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway."