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Transport campaign group ask Coalition to honour their promise on fare rises

16 August 2010
Reacting to Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond’s refusal to rule out even higher annual rail fare rises, Campaign for Better Transport Director Stephen Joseph said:

We’re already facing the prospect of even more crowded trains and reduced services due to possible spending cuts – and now we could have to pay even more for a worse service! Above-inflation fare rises are bad for the economy, bad for the environment and a rotten deal for passengers. With fuel prices so high, we need to make sure that the train offers a realistic alternative to driving.

There’s still time for the Government to honour its commitment to fair fares – but if the spending review doesn’t deliver on this promise, this could prove to be a flash-point for the Coalition. We aren’t going to let the Liberal Democrats forget their election promise to lower fares, and I don’t think hard-hit commuters in key marginal seats will either. We are asking commuters to write to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander reminding him of Liberal Democrat and Coalition commitments.”

Mr Hammond was commenting ahead of tomorrow’s publication of the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation figure for July, which is normally used to set the increases on regulated fares which come into effect in January 2011. Current policy dictates that fares are capped at RPI+1%, but Ministers are suggesting that following October’s spending review this formula could be changed to allow fares to rise even higher.

Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Coalition Government to honour its commitment to fair pricing for rail travel by holding a comprehensive review of rail fares with a view to bringing prices down. 82 MPs in the new parliament support this call.

Notes for Editors:

RPI: the July RPI rate is expected to be 5%, and current policy is to increase train fares 1% above inflation (RPI + 1%) annually, and RPI + 3% for Southeastern routes.

High fares: train fares in the UK are 20% above the European average. Since 1997, train fares have risen in real terms by 13% while the cost of motoring has fallen by 14% and the price of one-way flights from UK airports has, on average, dropped by 35%. Source: Hansard, 5 Feb 2010 : Column 534W

Cutting fares cuts carbon: reducing rail fares by 20% could increase low carbon rail travel by 17%. Cutting bus and rail fares and increasing motoring and aviation taxation could cut carbon emissions by 13%. Source: Steer Davies Gleave, Transport costs and carbon emissions, December 2008.

Spending cuts: Campaign for Better Transport research shows that DfT can deliver ‘smarter’ spending cuts that protect affordable public transport. Lower fares make it easier for people to get to work or training, increase disposable income, boost the economy, and increase tax revenue. Download our Smarter Cuts report here:  www.bettertransport.org.uk/spending-review-2010/smarter-cuts

Campaign for Better Transport are asking commuters to write to Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander at www.bettertransport.org.uk/take_action/train-fares-inflation reminding him of Liberal Democrat and Coalition commitments to fair fares.