Rail fares ‘less affordable’ in Sheffield than London, report says

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Train fares into Sheffield are less affordable than those to London once local wages have been taken into account, research out today shows.

The Campaign for Better Transport today reveals a new report which says investing in new trains, improved stations and better services as part of the new Northern Rail franchise would provide essential infrastructure for growing cities.

The research also found that train fares into Sheffield were around seven per cent higher than those in London, once substantial income differences between people working in the two cities had been taken into account, although they were cheaper to buy.

In the report, called Stepping Stones to a Rebalanced Britain, it said: “Once allowance is made for income levels, fares in the north are not on average cheaper than around London.”

The report said passenger numbers into Sheffield had doubled between 2002-03 and 2012-13.

It stresses that benefits from the billions of pounds due as part of the Northern Powerhouse ambition, aimed at helping northern cities to work together and compete with London, would also be maximised by new investment.

Last week the Commons Transport Select Committee last week said passengers outside the south east were expected to put up with ‘cast off’ trains and rail investment had been focused on London for too long.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The north’s rail network has had a raw deal for decades.

“This new research shows major investment is not only long overdue, but essential if we’re to tackle the north south divide.”

“All eyes are on the Government. They must use the new franchises for Northern Rail and TransPennine Express to get rid of outdated rolling stock, improve stations and make sure there are enough seat to cope with demand.”

Northern Rail runs many services in South Yorkshire.

The report said the franchise had not had the ‘renewal’ those in the south had and rolling stock had been allowed to age. Funding was needed to develop a clear ‘regional intercity network’, fulfill electrification and introduced an easy to understand zonal fares structure rather than peak tickets.

Reacting to the select committee’s findings, the RMT union said rolling stock had been shifted from the north to the south, and the ‘state of our rail fleet and infra structure is a daily insult to passengers.’