Fare rise hits those on low pay says MP

There is dismay at increased rail fares
There is dismay at increased rail fares
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Rail fare increases which mean the cost of a season ticket between Blackpool and Manchester has gone up by £644 in the last six years could harm Blackpool’s tourism, a resort MP has warned.

Blackpool South Labour MP Gordon Marsden said prices had seen “an increase of 25 per cent under David Cameron’s watch.”

MP Gordon Marsden

MP Gordon Marsden

Figures from fares database Avantix Traveller show the cost of a season ticket between Blackpool and Manchester will cost £3,236 in 2016, compared to £2,592 in 2010.

However Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard said fare rises were helping fund investment in the rail network.

But Mr Marsden said: “Passengers have been hit again and again by eye watering rail fares – fares that have rocketed by 25 per cent under almost six years of the Tories and far outstripping any increase in most people’s pay packet in the town.

“For a lot of people in Blackpool where car ownership is one of the lowest in the North West, travelling by train isn’t a luxury. It is how many get to work but this Government continues to make life more difficult for them.

“It will also put off tourists from visiting the resort and be harmful to our town’s businesses and the wider local economy.”

Mr Marsden said Labour wanted to bring the railways back into public ownership.

He said: “They should be run for passengers, not for profit.”

But Mr Maynard said under the Conservatives, more people were using trains.

He said: “No-one likes increased fares, but it’s worth noting that 1.1 per cent is the lowest rise in six years, and is going towards funding the largest investment in the rail network in a generation, including the electrification of the line from Blackpool to Preston which will speed up journey times and see improved rolling stock.

“Labour’s franchise for Northern Rail made no provision for passenger growth – yet under this Government, more people than ever before are now using the trains.

“ We’re just seeing the first anniversary of Blackpool’s London Euston service with Virgin, for example.

“Blackpool’s rail future, funded by passengers and taxpayers alike, has a brighter future than ever before thanks to this investment.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said: “On average 97p in every pound from fares is spent on trains, staff and other running costs.

“With passenger numbers doubling in the last 20 years, money from fares now almost covers the railway’s day-to-day operating costs.

“This allows government to focus its funding on building a bigger, better network.”