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Passengers cannot be expected to pay huge rises in rail fares

August 14, 2012 12:32 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Julian Huppert meets Justine Greening

Julian Huppert meets Transport Minister Justine Greening

Commenting on today's inflation figures setting July's RPI at 3.2 per cent, which in turn could lead to a 6.2 per cent (RPI+3%) rise in regulated rail fares in January, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, Julian Huppert said:

"After Labour raised fares by a crippling 66 per cent in cash terms between 1997 and 2010,Britain has the most expensive railway network in Europe, up to 30 per cent more than our nearest competitors. Astonishingly, they still want to raise fares above inflation.

"The Coalition is, quite rightly, investing more in our railways than any Government since the Victorian era in an effort to sort out the mess we inherited. But we can't just pass on the cost to commuters.

"Liberal Democrats in the Coalition, along with the Transport Secretary, managed to negotiate a RPI+1% fare rise for 2012, much lower than planned by some Conservatives.

"But people are struggling to make ends meet against a backdrop of wage freezes and rising utility bills. George Osborne has to realise that people cannot be expected to pay huge rises in rail fares on top."

Julian Huppert and Lord (Bill) Bradshaw, Co-Chairs of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party Committee on Transport, wrote to the Transport Secretary over the summer, reminding her it is Liberal Democrat policy to seek a real terms cut in rail fares.

Julian Huppert has written a blog on the fare increases here: http://julianhuppert.org.uk/rail-fares-are-too-high/

In July the Coalition announced an extra £4.2bn of infrastructure investment for our railways, in addition to the £5.2bn already announced for 2014-19. This includes funding for the Northern Hub; electrification of Welsh railways; £700m for over-crowding in the South-East; £240m for the East Coast Main Line and a new "Electric Spine" to improve links between North, South, East and West.