Activists from York Labour Party braved the freezing cold temperatures of an early January evening to make their feelings known about the 3.2% rise in rail fares, described recently by Jeremy Corbyn as a “disgrace” which “drives people away from public transport.”
Labour has argued that the amount rail companies can raise regulated fares should be limited to no more than the CPI (Consumer Price Index), however such a move would be the responsibility of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, and he has chosen to ignore the plight of commuters in favour of the rail companies. Grayling has also come in for criticism for attempting to blame the price rise on rail workers demanding high wage rises.
The price rises will mean that commuters on many routes will find themselves paying more than an additional £100 annually for their season tickets. Recent research by Labour comparing costs on 180 train routes has shown that the average season ticket holder is paying £786 more than when the Tories came to power in 2010.
This comes despite a year in which the railways have been in chaos due to poorly thought out timetable changes and massive overcrowding, as well as cancelled and significantly late services being at their highest level in 17 years.
Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Andy McDonald MP, said: “Under the Tories, fares have risen three times faster than average wages and severe disruption has blighted the network meaning services are often delayed or cancelled.
“It’s outrageous that passengers will be hit with yet another above-inflation fares rise following such a miserable year on the railway. Making passengers pay more to travel on increasingly overcrowded trains is simply not sustainable.
“The Government’s blind obsession with privatisation is putting the future of the railway at risk. Labour will do what’s best for passengers and taxpayers by taking the railway back into public ownership in order to improve services and cap fares.”
Meanwhile the government were hit with another embarrassment as their flagship 26-30 Millennial Railcard rollout was hit with huge delays as visitors to the website trying to purchase the new card found themselves in waiting lines of over an hour.
York Central’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell, the Shadow Rail Minister, said “Whether it’s on the railways or online, delays like this are sadly symbolic of the Conservatives’ mismanagement of our rail service. Following the worst year of delays and cancellations, the Government can’t even get their flagship policy right. Labour will bring the railways back into public ownership to improve services and cap fares.”