Rail fare hikes are a stealth tax on workers

Train passengers will be hit with the largest fare rise in nearly a decade after the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a cap of 3.8 per cent from March 2022.

The figure is in line with July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation and will be the steepest increase since January 2013.

In Scotland, the increase will be implemented on January 24. The Welsh government has not announced its plans.

Increases are normally implemented on the first working day of every year but have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh claimed the “brutal” fare increases are “a nightmare before Christmas for millions of passengers.”

She said: “Families already facing soaring taxes and bills will now be clobbered with an eye-watering rise in the cost of the daily commute.

“Many will wonder what planet ministers are on if they think people can afford this?”

Labour’s leadership was criticised by trade unionist Howard Beckett, former Unite assistant general secretary, for failing to support renationalising the railways despite a 49 per cent fare rise since the Tories came to power.

He tweeted: “Rail companies have had £3.5 billion of taxpayers‘ money through Covid, likely to rise to a £6bn taxpayer bailout.
“A nationalised rail service, anyone?”

Rail union TSSA blasted the government for “seeming hell-bent on discouraging rail travel.”
General secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The Tories are happy to incentivise aviation by cutting domestic air duty, but when it comes to rail it’s one failure after another.
“This has to stop. Fares rises are staggeringly counterproductive.”

Demand for rail travel is more than 40 per cent below pre-coronavirus levels.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan called the rise “stupid” and said that there was still time for the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary to “see sense and do the best thing for Britain.”
The train union’s Scotland organiser, Kevin Lindsay, urged the Scottish government to “halt the hikes in their tracks and end peak fares which only act as a stealth tax on working people.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented: “These increases are a stealth tax on workers. We have long campaigned for renationalisation of our rail industry and we continue to do so: Bring Back British Rail! and bring it back better”.

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