10 August 2010: One week today we’ll find out if the Coalition Government meant it when it promised to ‘make fares fair’ – a hazy policy pledge to be sure. But what’s crystal clear is that a 6% increase on the price you currently pay for your ticket is definitely not fair – which is what will happen if the Government sticks to the current system for setting prices.
Next Tuesday, the inflation figure for July will be announced, which will be used to set the rise in most train fares which will come into effect in January. The figure is expected to be 5%, and current policy is to increase train fares 1% above inflation (known as RPI + 1%) – and a whopping 3% on Southeastern trains.
Fares are already sky high – the highest in Europe. In tough economic times, we can’t keep pricing people off public transport. And if the Government wants to have any hope of being taken seriously as the ‘greenest Government ever’, it needs to set fares that get people out of their cars, off planes and onto trains.
The fares announcement will also tell us a little bit more about who’s running the show in the Department for Transport. Before the election, the Lib Dems promised to cut train fares in real terms (by RPI – 1%), and new Transport Minister Norman Baker made great calls to reopen thousands of miles of new railway lines. But the Coalition agreement looked a lot more like Tory rail policy, suggesting that the Lib Dems looked the other way on many key transport issues. They need to stand their ground on train fares – and you can help us make sure that they do.