Wigan rail passengers being asked to fork out more for train season tickets after months of shambolic service has been branded an “insult”.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy was joined by leading regional politicians and trade unions in giving a damning verdict after it emerged commuters travelling from the borough to Manchester will be expected to pay £1,193 for a year’s pass in 2019.
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The figure is a £37 rise from the £1,156 season ticket holders have shelled out this year.
However, after a disastrous run of problems and enormous political pressure on transport secretary Chris Grayling to act and bring about improvements the fare rises have been slammed.
Ms Nandy said: "After months of rail chaos, Chris Grayling expects Northern passengers to pay even more for services that are consistently overcrowded, delayed or cancelled.
“We were told that fare increases were needed to fund additional investment in our services, but it has become increasingly clear that this government has no intention of delivering on many promises it made as part of the Northern Powerhouse commitment.”
TUC North West regional secretary Lynn Collins said: “This is an insult to commuters across the region. After a year of delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains the last thing they deserve is another wage-busting fare hike.
“It’s time to bring services back under public ownership. This would free up money to lower ticket prices and allow for much-needed investment in our railways, including keeping guards on our trains.
“It’s quite a strange logic that workers are expected to pay more when they have been getting less of a service than before.
“Private train companies are squandering millions every year on shareholder dividends. Chris Grayling should be getting tough on them, not threatening to cut rail workers’ pay.”
Deputy mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said: “After months of misery rail passengers are once again being kicked in the teeth by the Government. Even after mass cancellations, an emergency timetable and the continuing shambles we see every Sunday, passengers are still set to be hit by these fare hikes.
“The Transport Secretary said earlier this year that the North’s railway and passengers were his number one priority. It is still not too late for Chris Grayling to live up to his own ambitions by freezing the fares for northern passengers.
“Right now we have a situation where the majority of Greater Manchester passengers aren’t eligible for the compensation package that’s being lauded by ministers. It’s simply not good enough.
“The crisis on the north’s railways has not gone away, passengers are still having to put up with a shamefully sub-standard service here. A fare freeze is the least passengers deserve.”
This year’s increases will be particularly tough to take as 2018 has been marked by near-meltdown on the region’s railways.
Wigan commuters were subjected to weeks on end with hundreds of services cancelled and trains running up to an hour later after time
table changes at Northern descended into chaos in a crisis which could have slashed up to £38m from the economy.
Other political figures who have joined the chorus of criticism include Greater Manchester Mayor and ex-Leigh MP Andy Burnham, who has written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking her to intervene, and Wigan Council leader Coun David Molyneux who recently called for operators to get their act together.
Fed-up passengers have used social media to highlight the crisis, sharing pictures of shockingly-overcrowded trains due to services arriving with not enough carriages and packed platforms of commuters waiting for delayed services to arrive and using the hashtag Northern Fail on Twitter.
The Department for Transport has accepted Northern passengers have experienced “unacceptable” disruption.