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The joke's on us: train fares triple in 20 years

April Fools' Day sell-off proves a right rail rip-off

Train fares have more than tripled since Britain’s railways were flogged off to profiteers on April Fools’ Day 20 years ago.

Transport union TSSA said yesterday that First Great Western and multimillionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin East Coast line jointly topped the list with 245 per cent rises in the cost of returns from London to Bristol and Manchester.

The top 10 fare rises since British Rail was torn apart in April 1994 show increases of between 151 per cent and 245 per cent.

Overall fares have nearly doubled in price, with a 78 per cent rise.

“This proves what every passenger knows in their bones,” said TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes.

“The private rail industry has been ripping us all off for the past 20 years.

“Fares on the most popular routes have more than trebled, rising three times faster than the rate of inflation.

“When the Tories sold off the railways, they gave the likes of tax exiles such as Sir Richard a licence to print money.

“He and his fellow privateers have been exploiting that licence ever since.”

Rail unions successfully campaigned against the most recent rip-off increase, with the government limiting the 2014 rise to the rate of inflation.

The TSSA has urged Labour to freeze fares for a year if it wins next year’s general election.

“The Tories obviously took us all for April fools in 1994, promising to actually cut fares but allowing them to go through the roof instead,” Mr Cortes said.

“We now want Labour to give rail passengers a real break by introducing a one-year freeze from January 2016.”

On top of the fares increases, passengers and other taxpayers also support the rip-off companies through subsidies.


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