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Anger over fare increases plan

Paul Nettleton, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association

Paul Nettleton, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association

Rail campaigners from the Fylde coast have called on Chancellor George Osborne to cut proposed rail fare increases.

Commuters have been told that some season tickets could go up by as much as 5.5 per cent in January 2015.

The extent of the rise was revealed in the announcement of the July 2014 RPI inflation figure, which determines the January 2015 annual rise for regulated fares.

Paul Nettleton (pictured inset), chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association, today criticised the

increase.

He said: “It’s the same old story. They absolutely take the pound of flesh but don’t want to give anything in return.

“The Blackpool North line is all right and going to be (improved) in a couple of years (through electrification) but there’s nothing for the Blackpool South line at all, which isn’t good.”

For some travellers the rise could be even higher.

Train companies also have a “flex” rule, which allows them to increase some regulated fares by two per cent above the average as long the overall average remains at the RPI plus 1 per cent level.

This means some fares could go up by 5.5 per cent in the new year.

In his autumn statement of 2013, Mr Osborne announced he was knocking one per cent off the January 2014 rise.

And campaign groups have now urged the Chancellor to make a similar announcement in this year’s autumn statement.

Mr Nettleton added: “The only thing that can happen

between now and then is for the Chancellor to say we won’t do it at three-and-a-half per cent, we’ll do it at one per cent.

“It’s down to Mr Osborne because there’s a thing called the general election on the horizon.”

Rail Minister Claire Perry acknowledged that passengers had to contend with “inflation-busting fare rises almost every year over the last decade” but insisted the Government was committed to fair fares.

She said: “What we have got to do is make sure rail passengers, who could be forgiven for thinking ‘What on earth am I getting for these rises I’ve seen over the last decade?’, start to realise that they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.”

 

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