LONG-SUFFERING rail travellers face a whopping 3.2 per cent rise in fares, it was revealed today, sparking union protests at stations across the country.
The rise comes on top of a 3.6 per cent increase imposed last year and will hit 40 per cent of fares from January, including season tickets on most commuter routes.
The cost of an annual commute on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston will now hit £10,902.
Pressure group Railfuture claimed train passengers are being treated like “second-class citizens compared to motorists.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the increase as “an insult to everyone who has suffered from the chaos on Britain's railways.”
He said: “The government’s shambolic mismanagement of our railways has been a national embarrassment and they must now step in to freeze fares charged on the worst-performing routes.
“Labour will take back control of our railways by bringing them into public ownership so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit.”
Scottish Labour warned that the increase could price passengers off trains.
The RMT union, which is involved in a prolonged dispute with operators over their drive to remove safety-critical guards from trains, organised pickets outside stations in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Edinburgh against the fare hike.
General secretary Mick Cash said: “With passengers already furious at the shocking level of service on Britain’s rip-off privatised railways, today’s news is just another kick in the teeth that will come back to haunt both the Tory government and the train companies alike.
“If it wasn’t for the profiteering and exploitation that is endemic after more than two decades of rail privatisation, we would have enough cash in the pot to invest in staffing and infrastructure and hold down fares at the same time."
The increase comes after the introduction of a new timetable in May caused widespread chaos in the north of England and on commuter lines into London. Thousands of passengers are still waiting for compensation.
Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of consumer group Which?, said: “These price rises are yet more bad news for passengers, many of whom have endured a summer of chaos, including cancellations, delays, overcrowding and poor service from train companies.”
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