Scandalous, the Brexit squeeze and why the law is an ass – McDonald, Creagh and Sadiq on rail fares rise

Figures from across the labour movement have spoken of their anger after train companies revealed the biggest rise in fares for five years.

The average 3.4 per cent increase, announced today by the Rail Delivery Group, covers regulated fares, which include season tickets, and unregulated fares, like leisure travel, and comes into force on January 2.

Sadiq Khan, London mayor: “Confirmation of yet another big hike in rail fares, caused by the government’s failure to act, will rightly leave Londoners furious. Passengers have faced a further year of delays, cancellations and overcrowding, and next year’s increase, the biggest in five years, is a slap in the face for long-suffering commuters. People are rightly fed up. If I can take action with TfL and freeze fares while improving services, so should the government. It is about time the government stood up to these under-performing private rail companies. With many Londoners’ wages not keeping up with inflation, it will be a further squeeze on people’s income at the worst possible time.”

Andy McDonald, shadow transport secretary: “This latest increase in rail fares is staggering. Private rail companies continue to cash in while passengers and commuters have to cough up. The Tories should follow Labour’s example and commit to ending the scandal of train companies being run for profit rather than people.”

Andrew Adonis, former transport secretary and leading supporter of Open Britain: “Commuters are feeling the Brexit squeeze already, as the rise in inflation has pushed up rail fares in their highest increase for five years. There is no doubting the impact of the plunge in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote on people’s spending power. And now the government’s extreme Brexit plans, and its continued inability to make progress in the negotiations, is causing deep uncertainty and keeping our currency weak. Nobody voted to pay more just to get to work. As the Brexit squeeze continues to hit families in the pocket, the British people have the right to keep an open mind about whether leaving the EU is really the best future for our country.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA: “The Tory law that meant inflation linked rail fare rises were made legal is an ass. If your fare to work costs you say £10 a day, this increase means you are going to have to cough up nearly another hundred quid next year. Passengers are being bled dry to ensure our private train companies stay in profit. This Tory government is all about rail for the profiteering few. But our increasingly many British rail commuters desperately need fairer fares.”

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT: “These fare increases are another kick in the teeth for British passengers who will still be left paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out, unreliable trains where private profit comes before public safety. For public sector workers and many others in our communities who have had their pay and benefits capped or frozen by this government these fare increases are another twist of the economic knife while the ‎private train companies are laughing all the way to the bank. ”

Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield and former shadow transport secretary: “Train fares are linked to inflation. Brexit costs you more.”

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness: “It’s scandalous that passengers are being asked to pay even more while the Furness and Cumbrian coast lines are in this terrible state.”

Aslef: “Rail Delivery Group tells passengers cough up more for fares so train company fat cats get a bigger Christmas bonus.”

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