Today we heard the unexpected but very welcome news that the Government will hold fare increases at inflation from 2015 following the same move this year.
What's clear now is that politicians are really starting to listen to the voices of rail users, maybe because there is General Election on the horizon, maybe because they are running out of places to hide, but I think this is a direct result of the hard work that campaigners up and down the country have been doing over the past few years. We should never underestimate people power and and how the collective voice of many can effect change and for me this is the main reason that come January fares will now be slightly less expensive than planned, offering some relief to passengers.
This is a success that should be rightly celebrated (campaigning successes can be few and far between) but our work is by no means done for 2014 and beyond. Firstly this is barely a "freeze" as fares are still rising almost four times faster than wages and that simply cannot continue, secondly we still do not have flexible ticketing for part time workers promised in the Fares and Ticketing Review and lastly the Government must drop the out of date, unrecognised Retail Price Index formula used to measure fares and switch to the widely used and consistently lower measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index.
As I've already mentioned, there is a General Election around the corner and it is key that public transport and the issue of train fares is very much an issue. It will be very difficult for any future Government to return to the policy of above inflation fare increases and Campaign for Better Transport will ensure that politicians and decision makers understand what an utterly toxic policy that has been.
Since 2010 train fares have increased by almost 25 per cent whilst wages have been stagnating and rising at just under 7 per cent on average. That huge disparity is the fundamental reason rail users and commuters are so angry when faced with fare increases year after year. The challenge now for Government is to ensure that fares become more affordable whilst the much needed investment in electrication and new trains is secured.
Our work for cheaper, fairer and simpler train fares continues and on Monday 8 September we will be protesting the increases in evening peak time fares on Northern Rail. We will be joining the RMT, TSSA and Friends of the Earth Manchester for a protest in Manchester to reject these increases and send a clear message to Government that they are unacceptable.
These increases will hit part-time workers and those or have to work flexibly hardest, and this part of the labour market are often the lowest paid. We have been collecting signatures for a petition and this has now passed 2,100 signatories, we will present this to Government and will demand that these fare increases are scrapped. Please help us by signing this petiton here.
Thank you for all your support for our Fair Fares Now campaign we are making progress and could not do any of it without your support.