How the Government could keep train fares down

The Government should also introduce a fuel tax on domestic flights, raising £460 million a year – enough to make up for revenue lost by cutting rather than increasing train fares.

By Richard Hebditch, campaigns director at Campaign for Better Transport, who are currently running Fair Fares Now campaign to keep down rail costs

This morning’s  announcement of the latest retail price index (RPI) inflation figure of 5 per cent, which will be used to calculate January’s  train fare increases, means regulated fares are rising four times faster than wages with some set to rise as much as 13 per cent next year.

By 2015 fares will be around 28 per cent higher than they are now.

The Government ahould drop their inflation-busting fare rises and instead cap regulated fares at RPI minus 1%.  We want to see cheaper, simpler and fairer rail tickets that provide good value for money and actually encourage people to use the train.

In the shorter term, the Government should also introduce a fuel tax on domestic flights, which currently get off scott free.

If the tax was introduced at the same rate as motoring fuel tax, it would raise around £460 million a year – enough to make up for revenue lost by cutting rather than increasing train fares.

The Government is promising improvements for passengers some way down the line but people will be paying more now for, in many cases, a worse service and at a time when people are least able to afford it.

Rather than penalising commuters we should be looking to cut the costs of the railway which are 40 per cent higher than equivalent countries. The Government knows the industry’s costs are too high and have already identified potential cost savings of up to £1 billion a year in the future – that should allow for investment and lower fares – the savings shouldn’t just be clawed back into government coffers.

No-one expects taxpayers to pay for all the costs of the railway but most people recognise that supporting our railways helps not only the passengers using trains, but also has much wider benefits in reducing congestion and cutting carbon. We’d soon start to see many more gridlocked roads if we the only source of income for the railway were farepayers.

The taxpayer contribution has already gone down significantly since the increase in spending after the chaos of the situation under Railtrack, with about a third of all spending on rail coming from the taxpayer.

It’s right that there should be a debate on what the contribution should be but the Government hides so much of the information about spending and income because of “commercial confidentiality” so it’s very difficult to have that open debate.

The railways bring huge benefits to society and not just to those who use them – tackling climate change, providing access to jobs, moving goods so that we can reduce the number of lorries on our roads – all these justify taxpayer support.

The Government is conducting a fare review in the Autumn and we’ll be pressuring them to look again at their above inflation fare rises. As the thousands of signatures we’ve collected through our national petition shows, there is real anger out there and the Government would be foolish to ignore that.

You can join the Fair Fares now campiagn here. Campaigners were at Waterloo Station this morning to spread the message:

 

32 Responses to “How the Government could keep train fares down”

  1. Elrik Merlin

    RT @leftfootfwd: How the Government could keep train fares down: //t.co/HtllTIE #fairfaresnow

  2. Ceehaitch

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  3. Richard Hebditch

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  4. Toivo Hartikainen

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  5. Michael

    How the Government could keep train fares down l Left Foot Forward – //j.mp/ne7g7M

  6. Birmingham FOE

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Govt could keep train fares down: //t.co/y5oZyZs Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  7. Andrew Gwynne

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Govt could keep train fares: //t.co/iFLdHHz writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  8. Plymouth City UNISON

    How the Government could keep train fares down l Left Foot Forward – //j.mp/ne7g7M

  9. David Corney

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  10. w.m o'mara

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  11. Sandy Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Govt could keep train fares down: //t.co/y5oZyZs Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  12. Debbie Jolly

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  13. Dr. Ben Wright

    While 5/6 big energy companies increase prices (//t.co/i3qBICF), train fares are set to increase by up to 28% (//t.co/cjBMihy).

  14. Healthy Brum

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Govt could keep train fares down: //t.co/y5oZyZs Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  15. Anthony

    Richard, where does the £460m figure come from? My analysis indicates that a fuel duty would raise at most only half that value.

    see //anthonycooper.blogspot.com/2011/08/domestic-flights-fuel-duty.html

  16. Hens4Freedom

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  17. Mr. Sensible

    I fully agree with you, Richard.

    Do domestic flights really not pay fuel tax? If so, this must clearly be put right.

    Whenever I have to go down to London from Nottingham, I find that the service is mainly good, but at the rate prices are going up, how many people will have the means to afford it?

    As you correctly say Richard, this could have consequences for the rest of the economy if passengers start deserting the railways.

  18. Chris

    If we’re going to put the railways right it’s going to take more than this predictable call for still more taxpayer money to be pumped in. How is it possible for a massively subsidised transport system (rail) to be unable to compete with a massively taxed system (cars)? As long as I can remember rail tickets have been extortionate. Why? Is it incompetence and greed at the top? Are the railway just a nineteenth century relic that is no longer efficient? I would love to know why our railway service is so consistently and irrevocably appalling.

  19. Ed's Talking Balls

    ‘Is it incompetence and greed at the top?’

    In short, I’m afraid it probably is.

  20. Lianne

    How the Government could keep train fares down //t.co/XI7DwMn

  21. Trakgalvis

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  22. James Edwards

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  23. Hitchin England

    How the Government could keep train fares: //t.co/QBfrGMz : writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  24. Ben Mitchell

    RT @leftfootfwd: How the Government could keep train fares down //t.co/FDFI6iM

  25. Gareth Jones

    //t.co/rdxpvfA How the #UK Government could keep #trainfares down

  26. TP recommends...

    A fuel tax on domestic flights, and other ways the government could avoid rail fare increases, from @leftfootfwd //t.co/OMcEWHP

  27. Police Cuts

    RT @leftfootfwd: How Govt could keep train fares: //t.co/iFLdHHz writes Campaign for Better Transport's @RichardHebditch #fairfaresnow

  28. Mr. Sensible

    I remember a post on this very blog before, by I think someone from one of the rail unions, commenting on the Mcnultey review. He effectively suggested that the Mcnultey review suggested fragmentation as a reason for increased costs, but more of this could come under the government’s plans.

    Chris the railways are still very much rellevent today.

  29. Dr. Ben Wright

    While 5/6 big energy companies increase prices (//t.co/kj4CjObY), train fares are set to increase by up to 28% (//t.co/WIbquyWo).

  30. Periodontal Disease

    BRAVO!wonderful presentation for a presenting an importing concept. brilliant work!

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