PROTESTS have been organised by trade unionists in South Yorkshire against rising rail fares which have increased three times faster than wages since the recession started.
But train companies say fares are going up because the Government wants to cut the huge subsidies paid to the industry and say improvements are being made to service – for example, East Midlands Trains has announced a major increase in capacity on a busy route through Sheffield as part of its new timetable.
Rail union representatives have been handing out protest Christmas cards to commuters at stations including Doncaster and on board trains after it emerged that between 2008 and 2012 average rail fares increased by 26.6 per cent – average wages rose by just 9.6 per cent over the same period.
A further increase, capped at an average of 4.2 per cent for each company, comes into force from January 2.
The rail unions have launched an Action for Rail campaign, encouraging commuters to use the Christmas cards to tell MPs of their concern.
The cards urge MPs to back a policy of ‘investment, fair fares and a publicly-owned railway that puts people before profits’.
Frances O’Grady, Action for Rail chairman, said: “Train fares have massively outstripped wages and inflation, even during the recession.”
EMT says almost all services on its route between Sheffield and Manchester will now have four carriages instead of two, meaning more than 3,600 extra seats each week.
David Horne, EMT managing director, said: “We invest a lot of time and resource into making sure our timetable offers the best possible service for our passengers.”