Protest in Plymouth as train fares rising 'three times as fast as wages'
AVERAGE train fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages since the recession began, say rail campaigners.
They were due to hold a protest at Plymouth rail station this morning as part of a nationwide day of action.
The TUC's Action for Rail campaign says a family of two adults and two children looking to travel to London on an anytime ticket from Plymouth in 2013 will have to pay more than £481.
The huge disparity between rail and wage increases means that their fare would be equivalent to the average weekly wage.
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Rail union members as well as commuters will take part in protests from 7.30am until 9.30am today to highlight the strength of feeling over further cuts.
They will hand out Christmas cards to travellers to make them aware of planned cuts to services and staff and the rising cost of rail travel.
The protests come just days after the Association of Train Operating Companies announced new inflation-busting fare rises for 2013.
A union spokesman said: "The seasonal message reminds train travellers that, as well as fare rises and staff cuts in the New Year, they can look forward to a 2013 packed full of cancelled trains, service cuts, and ticket office closures – all at a time when the train companies are making huge profits.
"Action for Rail campaigners will encourage commuters to use the Christmas cards to tell their local MPs of their concern over what is happening to the UK's railways."
According to new analysis published today, between 2008 and 2012 average rail fares increased by 26.6 per cent.
Average wages rose by just 9.6 per cent over the same period – well below the rate of inflation.
Train fares are set to outpace wages and inflation again in 2013 after the Association of Train Operating Companies announced a 3.9 per cent increase in average prices last week, with some fares set to rise by as much as 10 per cent from January.
Meanwhile, wages are forecast to rise by just 2.5per cent, according the Office for Budget Responsibility. The only year when average rail fare rises have been lower than wages and inflation was in 2010.
A First Great Western spokesman said: "We understand that these are tough times for many people but the money raised by Government through fares ensures investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.
"The price of season tickets is regulated by the Government, and while we have some room to manoeuvre – to reflect changes in demand on particular routes, for example – the average will stay the same.
"From January, none of our season tickets will rise by more than the Government's regulated fares formula.
"We have used the Government guidelines as the basis for all our fare changes – regardless of whether they are regulated or not.
"Aside from sensible rounding, none of our fares will rise by more than the formula."
Recent research by Transport for Quality of Life has shown that rail privatisation is costing taxpayers £1.2billion a year, with train operating companies making large profits on the back of public subsidies, the TUC said.
It claimed that eliminating this wastage could result in an 18 per cent cut in rail fares across the board.