A HIKE in rail fares will cost city commuters another £273 a year to get to and from work.
This morning (Tuesday) the Government announced plans to increase the cost of train journeys by 6.2 per cent – double the rate of inflation.
This takes the cost of an annual pass from Milton Keynes Central to Euston Station to a staggering £4,681 a year.
The Government is also due to announce the preferred bidder for West Coast Mainline services over the next few days.
The new franchise holder will take over services at the end of the year with the freedom to increase fares by RPI (Retail Prices Index) plus eight per cent in 2013 and 2014 and to introduce new ‘super peak’ fares.
But MP Iain Stewart believes that while the increase is too high, the number of available seats have increased too, allowing more people to sit down during peak times.
“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 would like to add that Virgin Trains has provided 50 per cent more extra standard seats by lengthening its Pendolinos to 11 carriages. In addition, London Midland has received the go-ahead to procure 40 new Class 350 carriages for use within the franchise.
“The new build carriages will be capable of running at 110mph and thereby generate additional train slots on the West Coast Main Line fast lines. This translates to an increase of eight peak services into and out of London Euston in the morning peak and evening peak.”
Andrew Pakes, Labour and Co-operative Parliamentary Spokesman for Milton Keynes said: “This is yet another eye-watering hike in prices at a time when many people are struggling to make ends meet.
“The Government promised to help passengers yet prices are soaring. Unless Ministers restore the cap on prices commuters will soon face the prospect of paying £5,000 just for the privilege of travelling to work.
“The ability to boost ticket prices while cutting staff levels and reducing services is nothing short of a licensed racket.
“Ministers need to stop blaming the last Government and use the powers they have to help passengers.
“We have had a lot of u-turns in recent months including on fuel duty for motorists, it’s time for another one.”