Last week train fares were increased further, putting pressure on commuters, with average day fares rising by 2.2%. The increase means that a record number of workers travelling into London will now pay more than £5,000 a year on travel costs.
The latest price hike marks the 11th successive year that rail prices have increased. In August analysis by the Campaign for Better Transport found that the rise in rail ticket prices is now outpacing the rise in wages by four times.
A report from union TUC and Action for Rail found that British commuters could be spending twice as much of their salary on travel on the UK’s privatised railways when compared to passengers on publicly owned railways in France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Taking into account the latest increases, a UK worker on an average salary is now spending 17% of their monthly wages on a £391 monthly season ticket from Brighton to London. European workers making similar journeys are spending considerably less, with Germans spending 9% of their salary on train fares, whilst the French would spend 15% of their earnings on travel, and Spaniards and Italians just 6%.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady commented, “This year’s fair hike will hit passengers particularly hard because wages are rising so slowly.
“Rail fares are now consuming a huge portion of people’s wages, leaving precious little for other bread and butter expenses. On average passengers are now paying £600 more for a season ticket and yet seeing no change in their pay packets.”
The government has defended the price hike, noting that the increases cannot go above the inflation rate and that the UK’s railways are currently being invested in.
The Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the government to take action to tackle the rising cost of rail travel.
Martin Abrams, a public transport campaigner at the organisation, said, “The government has pushed up many rail fares by over 20% since 2010 and their policy could stretch the gap between fares and wages even more in future years.
“Everyone who relies on the trains for work or leisure is looking for action to end the price hikes and get fares down and get fares down. The government should start reforming the discredited way it calculates future commuter fares and get on with introducing part-time and flexible season tickets, where progress has been mind numbingly slow.”
Photo: Matt Buck via Flickr
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