Rail fare increases to be announced on Thursday

Milton Keynes Train Station
Milton Keynes Train Station

RAIL commuters are set to find out how much fares will increase by next year.

An announcement is due to be made on Tuesday, when the RPI inflation figure will be revealed. This figure will be used to set the rise in regulated train fares for 2013.

The Government is also set to reveal which operator has won the rights to run the West Coast Mainline.

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has refused to put a cap on fare increases, which are set to rise by three per cent above inflation in 2013 and 2014, and then one per cent above inflation thereafter. The cost of a London Midland season ticket from Milton Keynes Central to Euston went up by £268 in January this year and now costs £4,408 per annum.

The West Coast Mainline decision will reveal the new franchise holder set to take over from Virgin at the end of the year. The franchise bid has already led to complaints from passengers and Sir Richard Branson that the new owner will be forced to cut services and increase fares.

Labour Parliamentary Spokesperson for Milton Keynes Andrew Pakes has urged the Government to re-impose a limit on fare increases.

He said: “We will see big news about the future of rail services in Milton Keynes over the next few days.

“Commuters are still recovering from a £268 hike in fares this January with another big increase set for the year ahead. The new West Coast Mainline operator will be able to put fares up by eight per cent above inflation next year, and it now looks like we face cuts to onboard facilities and fewer station staff. This is no way to run a railway or help passengers facing rising living costs.”

Speaking in July, Tory MPs Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster agreed the fares should be kept under control – although they placed the blame on spiralling costs on the Labour party.

MP for Milton Keynes South, Mr Stewart, said: “I agree that rail fares are too high. Under Labour they increased by a whopping 69 per cent. The Government is reviewing the whole of the railway industry to make it more efficient and reduce costs.

“As a member of Parliament’s Transport Committee, I am closely involved in scrutinising these plans. I also welcome the fact that, last year, the Government found money to limit fare increases and I will be lobbying for them to do so again this year.”

And member for MK North, Mr Lancaster, added: “It’s a bit rich for Mr Pakes to be complaining about the above inflation fare rises policy introduced by the last Labour Government, but I’m delighted that the current Government has committed to bringing it to an end as soon as possible.

“Having campaigned long and hard for improved local rail services, I’m delighted that those efforts are beginning to bear fruit with the recent improvements at Milton Keynes and Wolverton stations.”