Cameron signals rail fares u-turn

A report on the government's u-turn on rail fares.

 

In June, the government confirmed it would reinstate a planned fare rise of 3% above inflation from January – leaving commuters facing fare hikes of 6-11 per cent next year.

The Guardian reported:

Ministers had limited the rise to 1% rate this year to ease the financial strain on commuters but the Department of Transport has now confirmed the return to 3% above inflation, which is currently running at 3%. It means rail fares will increase by 6% on average and up to 11% in the most extreme cases.

The decision to defer the planned higher rates was introduced by the transport secretary Justine Greening in a move calculated to lessen the political impact of fare hikes – the most controversial cost-cutting move by the Department for Transport (DfT) since the coalition began.

Labour claimed the move showed that the coalition is “out of touch” with families struggling with the rising cost of living. The Department for Transport said the long-term ambition was to reduce fares.

However, today, at the start of Tory party conference, David Cameron has indicated a u-turn on rail fares, promising to cap them at 1% above inflation rather than 3%, as The Guardian reports:

David Cameron has promised to cap rail fares at a lower level than planned for two more years as the battle for Britain’s “squeezed middle” heats up.

Kicking off the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, the prime minister said rises in regulated rail fares and London bus and tube tickets would be capped at the RPI rate of inflation plus 1%, rather than the RPI plus 3% formula that had been set out in the 2010 spending review…

The move signifies another u-turn from the coalition government, having indicated in June that fares would rise at 3% above inflation from January. As inflation was running at around 3%, rail fares were due to increase by 6% on average and up to 11% in the most extreme cases. But that was met with almost universal opposition. Even train operators were against it, fearing it would alienate passengers.

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