Call for action to end soaring rail fares wins MP's support

September 21, 2009 10:24 AM

Howarth at railway stationA call for the government to bring down rail fares by scrapping the "failing" rail franchise system has been backed by Cambridge MP David Howarth.

Mr Howarth has supported claims that the Labour government has continued to pursue a franchise system that had led to companies overbidding to run rail services, resulting in large fare increases.

"Britain's rail fares are among the highest in Europe," he said. "Passengers have faced fare rises higher than the rate of inflation, which is particularly hard for those who depend on the railway to get to work.

"In most cases rail franchises are being awarded to a private monopoly with no choice of provider offered to rail passengers and they are being agreed with substantial amounts of premium paid to the treasury."

The call for action will be put to delegates at the Liberal Democrat's autumn conference in Bournemouth on Tuesday, (September 22).

Party members and supporters will demand that the government scraps the failing franchise system and replace it with one that gives priority to the passenger over higher premium payments. New franchise conditions must lead on quality of service and passenger experience including, where possible, fare reductions, they will be told.

The party also wants assurances that any surplus from franchise premiums should continue to be invested in rail improvements, to include improved services, more rolling stock and, where economically viable, the reopening of stations and lines.

Overall annual rail fare increases should be no more than inflation as part of the wider agenda for promoting green forms of travel, the party will demand.

What would you like to do next?