Election 2015: Tories promise rail fare freeze

 

The Conservatives plan to freeze rail fares in real terms until 2020 if they win the next election, saving passengers on average £400.

The move would see regulated fares kept in line with inflation over the next five years, and would ban train companies from using flexible pricing policies to put some fares up by around 5%.

The Government has already limited fare increases to the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation measure for the last two years.

David Cameron is expected to say today that it will no longer be ‘taken for granted that people who get up early and come home late, spend a large amount of the money they earn travelling to and from work’, The Times reports.

Mr Cameron added: ‘The cost of commuting is one of the biggest household bills that hardworking families face and it is something we are determined to bear down on.’

Over the last five years rail fares have risen up the political agenda as season ticket prices on some lines have increased by more than 20% - with Newcastle to Middlesbrough services rising from £1,841 a year to £2,324, an increase of 26.3%.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport said: ‘Rail passengers have suffered inflation busting fare rises for most of the last ten years, which have far outstripped wage growth, so any commitment to end real terms fare increases is welcome.

‘However, more is needed: we want to see flexible tickets for the army of part time workers who currently pay full fares, and more widely the whole rail fares system needs to be made simpler, fairer and cheaper.’

Labour has promised to introduce ‘a strict cap on annual rail fare increases across all routes’. The party reacted angrily to today’s announcement with shadow transport secretary, Michael Dugher calling it ‘unfunded, uncosted and frankly totally unbelievable’.

‘The truth is Tory ministers have allowed rail fares to rise 20% on average since 2010 and services for hard-pressed commuters to get worse. That's why Labour has been campaigning against the Tory inflation-busting rail fare hikes since 2010.

‘Labour wants to see big changes on rail - action on fares, but also an end to the failed franchises, a public sector operator and for the first time a passenger voice to stop the rip-off railways that have defined David Cameron's government.’

The Government sets the maximum limit for regulated fare charges, which include season tickets, anytime singles and off-peak inter-city returns.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast that RPI would hold at roughly 1% this year, rising to 2% in mid-2016 and 3% by 2018.

 

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