Feature: Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald brings Labour's campaign against rising rail fares to Leamington
Rail passengers in Warwick district and across the country are paying 'outrageous' fares to travel amid 'staggering' price rises.
This is the view Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald MP who visited Leamington station on Tuesday morning as part of his campaign against rising fares.
Brandishing a large mock-up of a rail ticket which highlights that on average fares are up 27 per cent since 2010, Mr McDonald spoke about the issues facing passengers and how the Labour party would tackle them if put in power after the next general election.
He said: “We are highlighting this year-on-year rise in rail fares against a background of a franchise system that’s totally failing people.
“It isn’t providing the service that they want and they are paying a highest fares in Europe.
“People are paying 17% of their average earnings towards season tickets across the country and this is outrageous.
“The whole purpose of our railway system is to try to derive profits for private operators and for us to sponsor and subsidise state-owned railway companies across Europe.”
Statistics provided by Labour as part of the campaign show that those travelling between Leamington and Coventry are paying £252 more for an annual season ticket than the £844 they did in 2010 - a 30 per cent rise.
The cost of a season ticket between Warwick and Birmingham Moor Street has gone up by 32%per cent from £1,114 in 2010 to £1,468 now.
And passengers travelling between Warwick Parkway and Acocks Green in Birmingham are now paying £336, or 29 per cent more, than the £1,114 it would cost them for a season ticket in 2010.
Mr McDonald said: “It is the same everywhere in the country, they are paying ridiculously high fares.
“We’ve had a 2.3 per cent increase and with some unregulated fares we have seen rises of 4.9 per cent.
“This is outrageous, people’s wages have not gone up at that rate they have gone backwards in many cases or stagnated so everybody is getting a poor deal and we’ve got to put passengers first.
“Put passengers before profit and deliver and appropriate service for the people of this country and this area because they haven’t been getting it because this is what they deserve and need.”
Mr McDonald said that, if it were to win the next general election, Labour would halt the rising cost of fares by bringing the railway system back into public ownership and return monies to the treasury rather than having it being “leeched out of the nation’s coffers” and used to subsidise operators abroad such as Abellio in Holland and Deutsche Bahn in Germany.
He said: “It’s a more sensible way to do it and it works in other countries. We have the confidence to do it ourselves.”
“We would be keeping the money here so we can invest in our services, invest in our railways and give the passenger a better deal instead of these rises.”
Protests were held at railway stations up and down the country this week as commuters hit by the annual rise in train fares returned to work after the festive break.
Campaigners Action For Rail organised the day of action after the average increase across Britain of 2.3 per cent came into force on Monday.
**** Monday’s average increase in rail fares across Britain of 2.3 per cent was the highest since January 2014.
Figures vary between operators, with fares on Virgin Trains East Coast services up by 4.9 per cent.
Government regulated fares are applicable to around 40 per cent of all tickets.
Train operating companies set the prices of other tickets but are bound by competition rules.
According to the Rail Delivery Group around 97p in every pound paid by passengers goes back into running and improving services.
But Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: “Taxpayers and paying passengers are the ones paying for investment on railways, train operating companies do not.”
Responding to protests against the increases, Government Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We’re delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for more than a century, providing more seats and services. We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger.”