Rail fares have increased at double the speed of wages since 2010, according to new analysis released today (Tuesday) by the TUC and the rail unions’ Action for Rail campaign.
The analysis shows that rail fares have risen by 25% in the last six years, while average weekly earnings have only grown by 12%.
The findings come as the government is set to announce another round of regulated rail fare increases for the coming year.
As fares for passengers rise, dividends paid to shareholders of private train companies have risen by 21% in the last year to £222 million.
A photo opportunity will take place at Exit 1 of London Bridge Station, used by GTR services such as Southern rail, at 8:00am on Tuesday 16 August. Rail unions and campaigners will unfurl a banner protesting about the fare increase and calling for public ownership of the railways. Similar protests will take place at various stations across the UK.
Commenting on the analysis, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rail passengers are paying more and getting even less. Fares go up while trains remain overcrowded, stations are unstaffed, and rail companies cut the guards who ensure journeys run smoothly and safely.
“Enough is enough. It’s time for rail services to be publicly owned, saving money for passengers and taxpayers alike. Instead of increasing fares and cutting staff, we should be building an accessible, reliable train service that Britain can be proud of.”
Unite national officer for the rail industry Tony Murphy said: “Supporters of privatisation have long-promised a European-style rail system, which is more reliable and modern.
“This promise has proven to be a mirage and commuters are paying for it, despite the fact that many have not received a decent pay rise in years.
“Commuters have been conned. The best solution is to take railways back into public ownership for the benefit of all, rather than the publicly-subsidised shareholders of rail companies.”
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Once more the passengers and taxpayers will wonder why they must pay more for an increasingly poor service. When will the government and the Department for Transport listen to those impacted by daft decisions and what is patently only good for the vested interests?
“Are we back to pricing people off the railway as a solution to overcrowding and inability to deliver?”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The rail privatisation racket is robbing the British people day in and day out. The train companies trouser billions while starving our rail infrastructure of the investment it so desperately needs.
“With the train companies queuing up to slash jobs and working conditions, at a time of dangerous overcrowding, it is a scandal that they are getting yet another fare hike. Private profit is being placed above rail safety.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Our rail fares are already the highest in Europe and today's increases will only make that record worse. It’s time that ministers gave rail passengers a break and actually froze fares in real terms.
"Fares on the most popular routes have jumped by more than 245% since rail was privatised 20 years ago. Running a publicly owned railway would end this annual mugging of passengers and give us a network run in the interests of passengers and staff."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Aside from the London Bridge photo shoot, other protests will take place across the UK. A list of times and locations is here: http://actionforrail.org/end-railripoff-on-16-august-protest-fare-rises-and-call-for-public-ownership/#sthash.otJi5grf.dpuf
Average weekly earnings (% increase) Rail fares (% increase)
2011 2.4 7.1
2012 1.3 4.8
2013 1.3 4.2
2014 1.3 3.3
2015 2.5 2.1
2016 (regulated only) 2.6 1.0
2010-2016 11.8 24.7
Source: ONS labour market and consumer prices statistics and TUC calculations. Calculations are based on RPI measure of ‘fares & other travel costs: rail fares’ and average weekly earnings (AWE) ‘total pay’ measure with the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast for 2016 (Economic and fiscal outlook, March 2016, Table 3.8).
- Figures for 2016 rail fares are based on regulated rail fares only, which are set by the government. Around half of all fares are regulated, and include season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities.
- Dividends paid to shareholders in private train operating companies were £222m in 2014/15, a 21% increase from the £183m paid in 2013/14. See tables 5.1 in bit.ly/2aSIeMe and bit.ly/2aKwBDx
- Action for Rail is a campaign led by the TUC and Aslef, RMT, TSSA and Unite unions. It campaigns for a national integrated railway under public ownership.
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