Thursday 08, March 2012
Manchester commuters' outrage over rail price-hike
RAIL travellers in Manchester are facing another rise in peak fares
following a Government shake-up of the transport system, reports Alex
Transport Secretary Justice Greening today announced the end of "inflation-busting fare rises" and that top-up card-style ticketing would be part of reforms.
The proposed changes could see train operators introducing 'super peak' tickets - higher fares at peak times and gradually reduce the cost of off-peak fares over a longer period of time.
This would add onto 6% increase in fares from the beginning of 2012, though off-peak fares could be lowered.
Travellers at Manchester Piccadilly Station were outraged at hearing the news.
Janine, 50, was travelling from Manchester to London on business, accused
the Government of being out of touch with rail users.
She added: “I think it’s appalling. It’s absolutely shocking.”
Regarding the lowering of off-peak fares, to encourage alternative travel times, she added: “It’s just not going to work is it. Who gets into work at 11 o’clock?”
Beverley and John, from Huddersfield, were also on their way to London. When told about the planned changes.
Beverley said: “That’s rubbish, how can they do that?”
John said the price of railway travel is overreaching the impact it has on him financially: “I have had to take two days off from work, because the peak tickets are too expensive.
"This adds an overnight stay in London which costs me more time away from my desk. If these ‘super-peak’ fares are introduced, it will only make it worse for those travelling for business.
"I think it’s disgraceful.”
Gwendolyn Clarke and John Hunter, both pensioners from St. Helens, were travelling to Milton Keynes.
Though they aren’t affected by the proposed fare rises, as they usually travel off-peak and book in advance, they said they felt sorry for other passengers.
Gwendolyn said: “I don’t think it’s fair to them.
"People need to be able to go to work when they have to and not be restricted by train fares.”
John added: “The flat rate system that is used in some countries in Europe would probably be a fairer way.
"On top of that, they should look at the bonuses that railway bosses have been getting whilst their companies have been performing badly, if they want to make savings.”
The charity Campaign for Better Transport says the plans would derail the Government’s fares review.
Sophie Allain, CBT’s public transport campaigner, said: "Today’s announcement contains many of the ideas we have called for, including discount fares for part-time workers and more smart and integrated ticketing.
"More powers for the regulator to take up passenger issues are welcome too.
“If operators are allowed to charge premium fares on busiest services, which together with the existing plans for above inflation fares rises for the next two years, will mean massive fare increases for thousands of people.”
In May 2011, the then Secretary of Transport, Philip Hammond, said that ‘above-inflation fare rises could disappear within four years if reforms are implemented’.
In that same month, Sir Roy McNulty of the Office of Rail Regulation published a review of the GB rail industry.
It said a full review of fare policy and structures was needed and called for a move towards a single rail regulator.
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