Anger as rail fares go up

Outdated trains: Gordon Marsden, Blackpool South MP, (below) says commuters are being crammed into out-of-date Pacer trains
Outdated trains: Gordon Marsden, Blackpool South MP, (below) says commuters are being crammed into out-of-date Pacer trains
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An increase in the cost of rail fares will hit the pockets of hard-up residents in Blackpool, one of the town’s MPs warned today.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden has hit out at the move which means regulated fares – including season tickets – have risen by up to 2.5 per cent, while the average cost of a rail ticket in Britain will increase by 2.2 per cent.

MP Gordon Marsden at his office in South Shore.

MP Gordon Marsden at his office in South Shore.

Mr Marsden, who is shadow minister for transport, said: “The reality is there has been a 24 per cent rise in the standard season ticket between Blackpool and Manchester since 2010.

“The cost of an annual ticket has risen from £2,592 in 2010 to £3,204 from this January.

“This is at a time when studies show living standards in Blackpool have fallen in that period by around 20 per cent and fares are already unaffordable for people.

“Ministers are saying people have to accept increases for a comfortable commute, but if you look at the situation locally, people are still being crammed into out-of-date Pacer trains.

“We have got a situation where all these decisions are being made centrally, but we are saying return more of these powers to local authorities, as part of our English devolution agenda.”

However, the Government says fares are crucial to funding rail modernisation.

Conservative MP for Fylde Mark Menzies said: “Labour was in power for 13 years and in that time the railways saw no investment.

“When it comes to railways under this government, we have seen recent investment and that does have to be paid for either by people using the service or by the tax-payer.

“So we have to make tough decisions.

“But the most important thing is we have a quality service and one of my campaigns is for improvements on the South Fylde line where some of the rolling stock is among the oldest in the country.”

Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group representing rail operators and Network Rail, said: “At 2.2 per cent, the average increase in fares in 2015 is the lowest for five years.

“We understand no one likes to pay more, especially to go to work. For every pound spent on fares, 97p goes on track, train, staff and other costs.”