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Commuters could pay up to a fifth of the average income for season tickets

31 December 2010
Fair Fares Now, a new campaign by Campaign for Better Transport calling for cheaper, simpler and fairer train tickets, is being launched as commuters returning to work next week face rail fare hikes. Some season tickets will cost more than a fifth of the average UK salary.

Fair Fares Now is being backed by actor and comedian Michael Palin CBE, who was the first signatory to the campaign.

Fare rises, which come into effect on 2 January 2011, mean that commuters in some parts of the country are being asked to pay £5,192, or 20% of the average UK salary, for their annual season ticket. This is the equivalent of transport secretary Philip Hammond MP being asked to pay £27,034 for a season ticket (or the equivalent, for David Cameron, of £28,628).

Millions of commuters already facing pay cuts and reduced hours will now have to fork out an average 5.8% extra for their season tickets, and up to 12.7% [2] in some places, with prices set to soar another 25% by 2015. The Fair Fares Now campaign will harness the widespread anger felt by passengers to demand that the Government keeps their promise to make rail fares fair.

Fair Fares Now is being launched by sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport and aims to get the Government to ditch its above-inflation fare rises in favour of more affordable, straightforward train tickets that provide good value for money and encourage people to choose the train.

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“Commuters feel like they are being pick-pocketed by the Government, expected to pay more year on year for the same poor quality service. Even with the promised extra investment, many passengers will see no actual improvement to their daily commute. Politicians need to start living in the real world and understand that people simply cannot afford to pay a fifth of their income just to do a day’s work. The Government pledged to create fair fares and we all expect them to keep that promise”.

Higher fares are pricing people off the train, which risks reducing access to work in London and other major UK cities. Forcing people back on to the roads will also generate more congestion and increase carbon emissions.

Actor and comedian, Michael Palin, said:

“Rail fare rises are holding travellers to ransom, and increasing the likelihood that people will have to take to our already over-crowded roads. Regular price hikes are no way for the Government and train companies to reward their regular customers. Instead of milking them, they should be thanking them for their loyalty with a better, simpler, more competitive fare structure."

To join the campaign visit www.fairfaresnow.org.uk

Notes to Editors

Download high resolution photos of Michael Palin supporting Fair Fares Now and of a Philip Hammond lookalike picking the pockets of commuters. Photo credits: Mike Russell. All photos are available to the media for free on behalf of Campaign for Better Transport.

1. The Fair Fares Now campaign is calling for affordable prices, even for peak times and turn-up-and-go tickets; reliable services that aren’t overcrowded; and straightforward tickets that make train travel simple

2. £25,948 is the median gross UK annual earnings for April 2009 – April 2010, (Office for National Statistics)

3. David Cameron’s annual salary: £142,500. Philip Hammond’s annual salary: £134,565 (House of Commons Information Office)

4. The Government said in the Coalition agreement that "we are committed to fair pricing for rail travel" (The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, p31)

5. A recent poll by YouGov found that rail fare increases were the most unpopular policy announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, with 80% of Britons opposing the measure.