Train fare price rises amount to a pay cut for commuters - Howarth

January 19, 2009 2:02 PM
David at Cambridge Station

David Howarth at Cambridge station

Train operator, First Capital Connect, has been accused of cutting commuters' pay in time of recession with its price rises.

Cambridge MP David Howarth challenged the company over the fare increases, claiming it has effectively cut workers' wages in this difficult economic climate.

"These fare increases are totally unacceptable," he said. "Commuters should not be facing extra costs just to get to work when they are already financially challenged in this difficult economic climate. This amounts to nothing less than a pay cut."

First Capital Connect increased the cost of a single ticket from Cambridge to King's Cross by six per cent, adding £1.07 to the £17.90 fare

During a meeting with Mr Howarth, representatives from First Capital Connect claimed they had little choice about the price rises because of the way in which the government sets the fare increase cap for regulated fares.

The Department of Transport sets the cap at one per cent above the Retail Prices Index and train operators must pay for the franchise which amounts to £85 million this year.

"The ultimate blame for these price increases lies with the government for slashing its support for rail services," added Mr Howarth. "It has planned an overall cut of about 40 per cent in support for passenger services and this is deliberately driving up fares.

"The government has tied the hands of the rail operators over price rises, but the companies could have done more to cushion the blow for commuters.

"As a result of these price rises, commuters will have considerably less in their pockets by the end of the month and are being penalised because they have no option but to take the train to work."

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