Union hits out at rail ticket increases

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A WIGAN rail union has branded a huge train ticket price increase as “daylight robbery”.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) branch has also now calculated that over the last decade rail fares have risen faster than house prices.

Union officials spoke out after the Department of Transport revealed that the latest rail fare increases linked to today’s Retail Price Index figures mean that fares will soar by an average of 4.1 per cent.

The calculation is even more eye brow raising because the country has experienced one of the world’s most spectacular and sustained property booms.

Between 2004 and 2012 the average house price (for all types of dwelling in the UK) rose 36.7 per cent - from £180,000 to £246,000.

Yet in the decade to January, rail fares (specifically, all types of tickets offered by every train operator) increased by 57.7 per cent.

And the RMT claims the figures show the rail operating companies are being allowed to charge exorbitant prices by contractual offered by a government determined to keep the railways in private hands.

The increase has been implemented across all rail operating companies at the behest of the government. This, coupled with lax regulatory oversight means that when a train operator secures a rail franchise, means according to Wigan RMT that they have won a “license to print money.”

A union spokesman said: “While rail fares are rising by nearly 10 per cent on some routes, the private train companies are in there stitching up secret franchise extensions with the government that are a one-way ticket to the bank for the shareholders who couldn’t care less about passengers and staff. The money ripped off from rail passengers under privatisation has even put the booming house market in the shade.

“Passengers stuck for hours on broken down trains will be commonplace as maintenance schedules slide and the whole rail operation remains in the hands of racketeers and speculators.”