Do you travel by Northern Rail?
If so, we bet you’ve noticed some fare changes.
From Monday 8 September, ‘off-peak’ tickets are no longer valid in many areas on services scheduled to depart between 4.01pm and 6.29pm on weekdays.
Northern Rail runs the Airedale, Wharfedale and Leeds-Harrogate lines as part of their franchise extension.
The LibDem/Tory Coalition is forcing them to introduce evening peak ticket restrictions on all these lines.
What that means in practice is that passengers who previously used off-peak tickets are having to cope with sharp increases in their fares. For example someone travelling from Guiseley to Leeds now has to pay £5.80 for a day return at the new peak times, an increase of 29%. The peak return fare from Keighley to Leeds is now £8, a huge 43% increase.
This increase in fares comes on top of the annual increase in fares. They’ll be going up again in January 2015. Annual changes to rail fares come into force in January, on the first working day of the calendar year. The increase is based on the RPI figures for the proceeding July – fares in 2015 are set to increase by an average of 3.5%. So expect worse to come!
Why is all this happening? Why, indeed.
The LibDem/Tory Coalition’s botched West Coast franchising in 2012 has cost taxpayers over £50million and disrupted the wider franchising programme. This has forced the Government to negotiate ad hoc and poor value for money extensions to existing franchises, including the extension of Northern’s franchise to February 2016.
The LibDem/Tory Coalition’s recent proposals for the future of Northern and TransPennine services set out plans for further fare increases, cuts to services and continued use of old pacer trains. In addition to the loss of 13% of Transpennine Express’s trains in April 2015, the Government has u-turned on its commitment to phasing out Northern’s Pacer Trains.
Worse services, on older trains, for higher fares. That about sums up the Coalition’s railway policy.
Alex Sobel, Labour parliamentary candidate for North West Leeds put it bluntly: “Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland has failed to stop his party bosses in Government from hitting people in North West Leeds with huge fare rises. Part time workers, students and people on low pay who use off-peak tickets now face eye watering fare increases. Only Labour would help address the cost-of-living crisis, stand up for local people and get a fair deal for people travelling in North West Leeds.”
Labour’s plans aim to reform the railways to get a better deal for taxpayers and passengers by:
• Creating a new “guiding mind” for the railway, bringing Network Rail together with a new representative passenger rail body to contract routes; co-ordinate industry services and skills; oversee stations, fares and ticketing; and ensure customer satisfaction across the network;
• Reviewing the Government’s failed franchise system, after the chaos of recent years, to put the passenger and taxpayer first;
• Legislating to allow a public sector operator to take on lines and challenge the train operators on a level playing field to secure value for money;
• Building cooperative principles to increase passenger and employee involvement, including encouraging mutuals and co-operatives into the industry;
• Devolving decisions over the running of regional and local services so that local areas can bring together trains, buses, trams into a single network;
• Tackling the monopoly market for train carriages by giving Network Rail greater responsibility to develop a long term plan for procurement and lease of new rolling stock;
• Easing the pressure on fare payers by passing on the savings from our reforms by capping annual fare rises on every route, simplifying fare structures and creating a new legal right to the cheapest ticket.
As Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh MP for Wakefield put it:
“David Cameron has allowed rail companies to hit passengers in North West Leeds with inflation busting fare hikes. Ministers’ stealth fare rise means Northern passengers are now being hit with increases of up to 36% in West Yorkshire.
“People shouldn’t have to choose between paying more or waiting hours on a platform and missing tea with their family. Labour would tackle the cost-of-living crisis by enforcing a strict cap on fare rises and reforming our railways for passengers, not profit.”
Stronger Economy Fairer Society? – we don’t think so.
Britain – and Leeds North West – Will Be Better under Labour
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