THE GOVERNMENT have announced that from August 2017, train tickets will be subject to a 1.9% increase as a result of Retail Price Inflation.
At the beginning of this year ticket prices rose by 1% across England, Scotland and Wales. By next January ticket prices will have rose nearly 3% in the past two years.
In addition, regional operator Northern have also increased ticket prices by 50p, a decision which which has left some commuters scratching their heads wondering where their money is going.
Some argue that rail fares are already an expensive way to travel yet some don’t think they will see the benefits to another increase in cost.
Bolton commuter Chris Harper uses his local train service to Manchester Victoria but says he hasn’t seen an improvement to train services since the cost to travel increased.
He said: “The distance between the stops hasn’t increased 1.9% so why has the price. Fuel prices are dropping so what cost exactly is being passed.”
“I take the train because it’s quicker, the bus would add another 25 minutes and stops at every point, the increase is just an inconvenience” expressed Chris.
The train costs £6.40 for a return from Bolton to Manchester Victoria. This is set to rise to £7.02 by January following Northern’s announcement last month of a 50 pence increase to off-peak tickets and the increase of 1.9 percent next year.
Northern announced earlier this year they would be increasing off-peak tickets for commuters in the North West by 50p with this coming into effect last month.
Northern, which is owned by the Arriva Group operate a number of bus/train services across the country, have blamed the increase on funding an improvement programme to provide a better service for Manchester’s commuters.
Liam Sumpter, regional director at Northern defended the decision to raise ticket prices on his routes and tried to reassure commuters that this was a ‘well-needed’ boost for the network.
Liam said: “I appreciate that this means some fares are increasing, but our Off-Peak fares still offer great value for money to anyone wanting to travel across the Greater Manchester area.”
“Looking ahead we have just embarked on a £1billion, four-year improvement programme at Northern. Customers in the Manchester area will see new and improved trains, with more capacity and more services that will deliver a better travel experience” he said.
However, railway pressure groups believe that any increase will not have a positive effect for Britains commuters.
“Annual mugging of passengers”
General Secretary Manuel Cortes, of the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association condemned Britain’s rail fares and compared them to tickets which are generally cheaper in Europe.
He said: “Rail fares are already the highest in Europe…fares on the most popular routes have jumped by more than 245% since rail was privatised 20 years ago.”
“Running a publicly owned railway would end this annual mugging of passengers and give us a network run in the interests of passengers and staff” Manuel said.
Last year 25 million people used trains across Greater Manchester, this accounts for journeys started and ended at a Greater Manchester train station.
This accounts for inter-city rail services operated by Virgin Trains, Arriva Northern, Arriva CrossCountry and TransPennine Express.
At an increase of 1.9% the estimated figure to be generated from the rise is £902,500. This doesn’t factor in Northern’s increase of 50p per off-peak customer.
What’s alarming for consumers is that this estimation isn’t guaranteed to reach other passengers travelling in the North West, this increase is charged by the government and revenue made as a result helps fund the increasing running and living costs, according to the Government.
Ticket prices adjust at the start every of the year, but this increase will be one of the highest to date.
By Jim Scott