A rise in rail fares - which could add £165 to the cost of commuting from Huntingdon to London next year - are another “smack in the face” for hardworking commuters, Labour MEP Alex Mayer has said.
She wants the Department for Transport to use the lower Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rather than the Retail Prices Index (RPI) to set the January fare increases.
Ms Mayer, who represents the East of England, said local commuters faced an unwelcome 3.2 per cent rise in fares, coming hot on the heels of “cancellations, chaos and delays” across the railway network and a 10-year low for commuter satisfaction.
She said: “Give commuters a break. Surely after the chaos of the last few months, the government should not be allowing fares to increase faster than many people’s wages.
“This news is yet another smack in the face for hard working commuters who have been hit again and again by eye-watering rail fare rises. We need to be encouraging people onto trains not putting obstacles in the way.”
Ms Mayer said: “Labour would bring our railways into public ownership. This would mean capped fairs, more reliable services and more investment. It’s time to put passengers first, not profit and run our railways for the many, not the few.
“In Germany, the cost of a season ticket that lets you board any train anywhere in the country for a year is £3,840. In Huntingdon we will expect commuters to pay £1,615 more than that just for a 70-mile daily journey into the capital.”
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “Fares are underpinning a once-in-a-generation investment plan to improve the railway and politicians effectively determine that season ticket prices should change in line with other day-to-day costs to help fund this.
“While the industry is learning lessons from the recent timetable change, major improvements have been delivered this year from upgraded stations at London Bridge and Liverpool Lime Street to new trains in the South West and Scotland and more will be delivered in the next year.”
He added: “We understand that aspects of the current fares system are frustrating for people which is why as part of the industry’s plan, train companies are also leading a consultation to update regulation and improve the range of fares on offer, making the system simpler and easier to use for customers.”
Govia Thameslink Railway, which provides services at Huntingdon and St Neots, said there had been no confirmation of fare rises which would be announced in December.
It added that the Department for Transport authorised ticket prices and that Govia passed on all revenue to the department without receiving income from ticket sales.