Protests in Berwick as rail season tickets rise by 4.1%

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.
Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.
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Protests against further rail fare increases took place at Berwick and other mainline stations on Tuesday.

Regulated rail fares, which include season tickets, are set to rise by 4.1 per cent in January.

The increases – the sixth time in seven years that fare rises have outstripped wages – will mean that rail fares will have increased by 40 per cent since between January 2008 and January 2014.

Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 15 per cent, with rail fares rising nearly three times faster than wages.

New official figures out this week show that RPI inflation rose by 3.1 per cent in July. Regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – are allowed to rise by July’s RPI figure plus one per cent, and would therefore increase by 4.1 per cent in January 2014.

An additional five per cent flexibility means that some season tickets could actually increase by around nine per cent in the new year, while unregulated fares could increase further. Average earnings are forecast to rise by just 2.4 per cent next year.

TUC analysis shows that some season tickets have increased by over £1,000 since 2008. Commuters between Berwick to Newcastle will see their season ticket price rise from £3,840 this year to £4,005 in 2014, making an overall increase of £975 since 2008. The TUC’s Action for Rail campaign marked the inflation figure news with protests at stations across the country, including Berwick.

Campaigners, including Northern TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat, handed out postcards at 47 stations across the country calling on MPs to put people before profits and return our railways to public ownership.

Research by Transport for Quality of Life has indicated that rail privatisation is costing taxpayers £1.2bn a year.

Northern TUC Regional Secretary Beth Farhat said: “Rail travel should be a public service that links our communities and is accessible to all.

“Privatisation has proved a costly and wasteful mess and public ownership is the only sustainable way of delivering a public service with cheaper fares. In the last three years we have seen below inflation pay rises, pay freezes and a real terms drop in wages. The average worker in the north east is up to £1,200 worse off a year as a result.

“Wages are stagnant, yet prices, particularly of family essentials such as food, fuel and energy, keep on rising - and for the many workers who rely on the rail network these extortionate increases could prove a bridge too far.”