This site is easier to read in landscape format on mobiles.

National Protest on rail fares today

John Freeman
Yesterday, rail passengers faced inflation-busing fare rises in the UK. Today is a national day of passenger protest organised by the Campaign for Better Transport, who are urging commuters not to pass up the opportunity to voice your views on rip-off fares.

Commuters crowded into rail carriages across Lancashire - perhaps on their way to Preston or Manchester from Lancaser - are being asked to text, tweet or call Chancellor George Osborne to let him know how much their fare has gone up by and what this will mean to them.

The Campaign for Better Transport has published train fare comparisons which highlight the scale of the gap between rail fares in the five biggest European capitals, revealing how, for example, Italian commuters pay a tenth of the UK price. The French have the second most expensive fares and yet still only pay less than a third of the fares paid by passengers in the UK.

In the North West, season ticket price rises have varied but many show a six per cent increase, while some on some routes - for example, between Manchester and Bolton - the rise is over seven per cent.

If this was not bad enough, UK rail fares have risen above inflation again this New Year, and Government policy means even steeper rises in 2013 and 2014. By 2015, our fares will be 24 per cent higher than in 2011.

"UK rail fare rises are a scandal," says Richard Hebditch, Campaigns Director for CBT, "and it’s time passengers stood up and had their voices heard."

Rail companies continue to argue that the higher fares are being used to pay for rail improvements and insist everything is being done to bring overheads down.

"We understand times are tough for many people," says Edward Welsh from the Association of Train Operating Companies. "That's why we are working with our partners in the railways to bring down the overall cost of the railways because in the long term is to do just that."

The Government is apparently examining the whole issue of fare rises and there were reports on Tuesday that commuters might be spared the full horror of an Retail Price Index plus 3 per cent rise next year.

The January 2013 rise will depend on the RPI inflation figure for July 2012 which could be much lower than July's 2011 RPI, which determined this month's rise - and ongoing protest could sway the governement to act in commuters' favour.

To take part in the CBT campaign, you can:
  • Tell the Treasury how you feel by tweeting: @hmtreasury I am paying £xx more for my rail fare. I'm angry because . . .  #railfail
  • Send a text with the keyword farefail to 88802
  • Call the Treasury direct on 020 7270 5000 to complain about the rises
  • Retweeting a message from CBT's Twitter account @fairfaresnow
• If you use Twitter or have a Facebook account, CBT is urging peple to spread the news about how to to take part in the protest.

• Campaign for Better Transport: