UK

Rail Fares Increase Again, Protests Held Across The Country

13/08/2013 07:08 BST | Updated 13/08/2013 13:13 BST

It is the news guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of commuters struggling into work on the train - yet another

inflation-busting fare rise.

Protests are being held across the country at the expected hike - which will leave tickets 40% more expensive than six years ago.

But train bosses boasted that customer satisfaction was at "near-record" levels.

The latest RPI inflation figure, published on Tuesday, is expected to be 3.3% - meaning rail fares will go up by 4.3% in January, well above wage increases.

Campaigners pointed out that our rail fares are already the highest in the whole of Europe, and said it would be the sixth time in seven years that rail fares have outstripped wages.

Between 2008 and next January rail fares will have jumped by 40%, compared with a 15% increase in average earnings.

The TUC and the Action for Rail campaign group will stage a series of demonstrations at almost 50 stations to mark the publication of the latest RPI inflation figure, which is used to calculate next year's rail fare rise.

The TUC said rail privatisation was costing taxpayers £1.2 billion a year despite "minimal" investment in trains and stations.

General secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Every year hard-pressed rail commuters have to hand over an ever greater share of their earnings just to get to and from work.

"Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements either. Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "Since 2004, it has been Government policy to allow regulated fares to rise above inflation in order to support investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.

"This is helping to drive passenger satisfaction to near-record levels while seeking to reduce taxpayers' contribution towards the cost of running the railways.

The Campaign for Better Transport published research showing that rail fares are increasing nearly twice as fast as incomes, outstripping increases in wages by nearly 14% since 2007.

Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "Getting to work is now the biggest single monthly outgoing for many commuters - more than food, more than housing."