Rail fare row rumbles on

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Rail fare increases are being discussed today in the House of Commons with MPs set to vote on a cap for travel costs.

A motion has been tabled by Labour calling on the government to restore the cap on fare rises for the next two years, which was scrapped when the Conservatives came into power.

Andrew Pakes, Labour and Co-operative Parliamentary Spokesperson for Milton Keynes, met with Richard Parry, interim managing director of the First Group trains bid for West Coast Mainline, on Monday to question his plans for Milton Keynes.

The meeting came after Andrew and his team conducted a survey among rail passengers which found that 82 per cent thought tickets were too expensive, and 81 per cent thought a cap on fares was needed.

Mr Pakes said: “There is a consensus that yet another year of eye-watering fare rises is bad for passengers and our local economy. I have been amazed at the depth of anger about another fares hike at a time when many people are already juggling higher living costs.

“George Osborne must realise how difficult it is for passengers to saddle yet more costs. A cap on fares will not solve everything but it is a start. I hope that our MPs listen to local concerns about higher fares and put aside the wishes of their party bosses and vote to curb the fare hike.”

Speaking about his meeting with First Group, Mr Pakes added: “I was pleased to meet with First Group representatives to make clear the level of public concern about the change of franchise planned for December. There will be some improvements on the franchise but we need to keep a close on eye on plans for fare increases and any changes to staffing levels.”

One respondent to the survey said: “It would be much better to spend money expanding the local infrastructure and ‘encouraging’ road freight onto the railways than spending it to reduce the London to Manchester time by a few minutes.”

Another added: “A more even ‘spread’ of Northbound services from Wolverton (I.e not just 52 and 58 minutes); yet retaining the staggered departure times to/from London. A review of the £9+ fare between Wolverton & Northampton. It’s also important to note that the machines can’t offer the cheapest fare, start your trip from an alternative station or sell you a monthly season ticket.”