Sheffield MP blasts 'unfair' 40 per cent train fare rise

Train fares for Sheffield commuters have soared at nearly triple the rate of earnings, an MP claims, ahead of the latest price hike.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 16:46 pm
Sheffield railway station and MP Paul Blomfield

Regulated rail fares are set to rise by 2.8 per cent next year, in line with the July rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation, it was announced earlier this week.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield says that will mean the cost of a season ticket for workers commuting from Sheffield to Manchester and Leeds has increased by nearly 40 per cent over the last decade – nearly three times as much as earnings have gone up during that period.

He has branded the ‘massive’ increases ‘unfair’, especially given the lack of rail investment in the north.

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“Lots of local people commute to work in Manchester and Leeds, and massive fare increases of nearly 40 per cent since 2010 are unfair when earnings have risen by just 14 per cent,” he said.

“Building a northern economy to rebalance jobs and wealth from London needs investment in our rail network to make journeys much quicker, more reliable and affordable.

“The Government has sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people’s pay has been held back. Continuous fare rises also undermine the urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railway.

“Labour will cap fares and bring our railways into public ownership, so they are run in the interests of passengers and not private profit.”

The latest price hike means the cost of Sheffield-Manchester and Sheffield-Leeds season tickets will have risen by 35 per cent and 39 per cent respectively since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, according to research by the Labour Party.

It analysed more than 180 train routes across the country and found the average commuter will soon be paying £3,067 for a season ticket – an increase of £873, or 40 per cent, since 2010.

According to Labour’s research, a season ticket from Sheffield-Manchester will set passengers back £3,939 come January, a rise of £1,019 since 2010, while the cost a Sheffield-Leeds season ticket will have soared by £753 over the same period to £2,693.

The figures come as a report released this week by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that £3,636 per person would be spent on transport in London under current plans, compared with just £511 in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The new fares are due to come into force on January 3 next year, and the Department for Transport says it will be the seventh year running that increases have been capped in line with inflation, with rises having on average remained below the annual inflation cap since 2014.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I've been taking six trains a day for years and have frequently found commuting extremely frustrating, so it's tempting to suggest fares should never rise. Of course, the truth is that if we stop investing in our railways then we'll never see it improved.

“So my first priority is to get the trains running on time and Keith Williams has been carrying out a root-and-branch review.

“Our trains are the busiest they have been in history, but that congestion must not prevent us from creating a railway that’s fit for the 21st century.”

There have been calls for fare rises to be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which tends to be significantly lower than the RPI.