Senior Tory MP blasts ‘slap in the face’ rail fare hikes
Conservative MP Bob Neill has hit out at “slap in the face” increases in rail fares.
The Bromley MP slammed the announcement after it was confirmed that regulated rail fares would rise by a further 3.2% in January - meaning they have risen three times faster than wages.
The fresh hike in ticket prices is linked to the publication of the ONS Retail Price Index, which the Government uses to determine the cap on annual fare increases for certain tickets.
But the former deputy chair of the Conservative party said that it was “crass to expect commuters to pay more for less.”
He told the News Shopper: “After a summer of delays and cancellations following the botched timetable revision, raising fares now would be a slap in the face for those of us who regularly travel by rail, and would be particularly hard felt in areas like our where the franchise has in effect a monopoly supply.”
And he urged the Government to curb fare increases to show it was “on the side of passengers; an increase would send completely the wrong message”.
His comments echo those of fellow Tory MP Robert Halfon, who earlier today urged ministers to reconsider the decision.
He told the Sun: “If we are truly the ‘cutting the cost of living’ party, the Government needs to knock this rise on the head.”
But Transport Secretary Chris Grayling brushed aside calls for a fare freeze, saying that while the rises were "unwelcome" it was "not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do".
He said he wanted to see "lower levels of increases for passengers in future".
Meanwhile, Labour warned that some commuters would now be paying over £2,850 more than they were in 2010 - with some routes up by more than 50% in just eight years.
The highest increase the party found was on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston, which will have risen by £2,874 since 2010 and now costs £10,902.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn branded the rises “insulting” to commuters.