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Hammond targeted by campaigners as fare hikes look set to cost commuters £127m

12 May 2011
Campaigners and passengers descended on a key rail conference today to protest at the coalition government's failure to deliver on their promise of fair fares, as season ticket increases look set to cost commuters as much as £127million next year alone.

To mark the one-year anniversary of the coalition, campaigners delivered a 50 metre fabric petition to transport secretary Philip Hammond MP as he arrived to deliver the conference keynote speech. The petition was made up of fabric train carriages with hand-stitched messages that illustrate the effects of record fare rises on passengers and the environment.

The protest comes a week before the long awaited publication of Sir Roy McNulty's review of value for money in the rail industry, which is expected to suggest even higher peak time fares. With regulated fares already set to rise four times faster than wages next year, the Government’s decision to continue to raise fares higher than inflation has been met with anger from commuters, particularly given the Liberal Democrats’ pre-election promise to cut train fares.

The protest was organised by Campaign for Better Transport who launched the Fair Fares Now campaign earlier in the year to call for cheaper, simpler and fairer rail ticketing.

Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport's public transport campaigner, said: "We are now one year on since the coalition pledged to make fares fair, but passengers are being forced to pay record prices to travel on the same or a worse service. Where is the fairness in that? The McNulty review is meant to identify ways to improve value for money for taxpayers and farepayers alike, but it seems that passengers are in danger of getting the raw end of the deal."

Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective who produced the fabric train petition, said: "These unfair fare increases will stop people using the trains at a time when eco-friendly travel is more important than ever. The hikes will also hit the poorest hardest, making it even harder to afford to get to work, education or training.”

Campaign for Better Transport has produced a briefing ahead of the publication of the McNulty Rail Value for Money Review. The briefing looks at what’s likely to be in the review and what the practical results might be. Read it here.

Notes to Editors

1. Campaign for Better Transport launched the Fair Fares Now campaign in January 2011 to call for cheaper, simpler, fairer rail ticketing. 51 MPs to date have signed a parliamentary motion calling on the Government to reconsider its plans to raise regulated fares by 28 per cent over the next three years. Visit the website for more information www.fairfaresnow.org

2. The Government said in the coalition agreement that "we are committed to fair pricing for rail travel" (The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, p31). The Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010 stated they would 'cut rail fares…so that regulated fares fall behind inflation by 1 per cent each year, meaning a real-terms cut'.

3. In the year for which most recent official figures are available (2009 – 2010), season ticket revenue was £1.57bn. Fares are predicted to rise by an average of 8.1 per cent (predicted inflation of 5.1 per cent plus 3 per cent) in 2012. If current trends continue, this would therefore result in an extra £127m spending on season tickets.

4. In October’s Spending Review, the Government announced that regulated rail fares would increase by up to 3 per cent above the RPI inflation rate for three years from January 2012.

5. Wage and inflation forecasts available from The Office for Budget Responsibility, Economic and Fiscal Outlook March 2011 (page 79)

6. The Craftivist Collective is a group of activists who use needle and thread to sew protest messages. On Sunday 10 April they organised 15 ‘stitch-ins’ at train stations across the country to stitch protest panels for the fabric train petition.

7. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).