Protests at Sheffield railway station as rail fares rise by an average of 3.1 per cent

Rail fares in Sheffield have increased by an average of 3.1 per cent amid punctuality at a 13-year low.

The cost of many rail season tickets rose by more than £100 due to the annual price hike on Wednesday.

Sheffield railway station

Sheffield railway station

A rail campaign group described the latest fares rise as ‘another kick in the wallet’ for passengers.

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The rail industry insists the ‘vast majority"’of revenue from fares covers the day-to-day costs of running the railway.

One in seven trains were delayed by at least five minutes in the past 12 months as a series of major issues have plagued the railway.

The rise comes after passengers were warned to face further disruption throughout January as members of the RMT union remain locked in a bitter dispute over the role of guards.

The 3.1 per cent average fare rise is the second highest since January 2013.

It means an annual season ticket from Sheffield to Leeds will now cost £2,620, to Manchester Piccadilly will cost £3,156 and from Sheffield to London £12,688.

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Robert Nisbet, regional director of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, acknowledged ‘nobody wants to pay more for their journey to work’ but insisted money from fares was being used to ‘build the better railway customers want’.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling marked the increase in fares by announcing that a new railcard to extend child fares to 16 and 17 year olds will be available in time for the new academic year in September.

A railcard for 26-30 year olds goes on general sale at noon on Wednesday.

Mr Grayling claimed the Government's ‘record investment’ in the rail network will help passengers get the ‘frequent, affordable and reliable journeys they deserve’

Members of the Sheffield Trade Union Council and Sheffield Green Party will be speaking to passengers at Sheffield railway station today.

A delegation from the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Labour party will also be leafleting outside Meadowhall railway station from 9.30am until 11.30am.

Sheffield Green Councillor Douglas Johnson said “Opinion poll after opinion poll has shown that the British public know that railway network isn’t fit for purpose and change urgently needs to happen.

“But that doesn’t help rail users here in Sheffield when they are stood on the platform waiting for a late – or worse still cancelled – train. There feels like there is little we can do except wait – or if you can, ditch the train altogether.

“Rail users must make the rail companies pay for their incompetence – literally. The Delay Repay scheme lets passengers claim compensation for late-running services.

“Yes, the compensation doesn’t make up for being late for work, or missing an important meeting but it is only right that we are compensated for a service that does not get to the destination on time. The more it costs the companies who are being paid to run these inadequate services, the quicker they will act.”

Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, said the current railway system had ‘failed’.

She added: “Many of our cities here in Yorkshire are some of the most congested and polluted in Western Europe.

“We all know that the current system has failed, but we need to take a step back and look at how rail fits in with our transport policy as a whole. We must prioritise clean and cheap public transport that mean people can get around without having to rely on cars.

“The Green Party is calling for sweeping changes to transport policy including ending the expensive franchising system and instead co-ordinating national train services with profits reinvested back into the network – as happens across most of Europe.”

“We also want to see better co-ordination of public transport and a significant increase in investment to reduce pressure on our congested roads and offer a real alternative to car travel.

"Having just been at the UN climate talks in Katowice, I saw first-hand just how behind our trains are those on the Continent. German trains have large, comfortable seats, with space to stretch out and toilets that don't smell.

“I saw Polish trains with ample cycle provision, and a Czech Pendolino with a dedicated children's space with carpeted seating and big screen for cartoons."

READ MORE: Disruption to Sheffield rail services to continue  into 2019 as guard row rumbles on

RMT union general secretary Mick Cash said passengers were being ‘battered by the toxic combination of gross mismanagement and profiteering’.

Fewer than half (45 per cent) of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets, according to a survey by watchdog Transport Focus.

The Department for Transport has commissioned former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams to carry out a root and branch review of Britain's railway, including fares.