Wakefield commuters facing soaring rail fares

1st December 2011'Wakefield Westgate train station.'Picture: Matthew Page
1st December 2011'Wakefield Westgate train station.'Picture: Matthew Page
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TRAIN passengers are facing another rise in fares of more than eight per cent next year.

The government plans to increase ticket prices in January by three per cent plus inflation, which currently stands at 3.2 per cent.

And there will be a further two per cent increase in West Yorkshire to pay for more carriages.

It means the price of a season ticket between Wakefield and Leeds will soar from £908 to about £982.

Fares previously rose by the same amount in January this year. And Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said the government was risking “pricing people out of work”.

She said: “This is bad news for commuters already facing a cost of living crisis, and our local economy.

“People from Wakefield are still recovering from the fare hike this year.

“The government should take action before they price people out of work. If ministers allow train companies to hike rail fares again, it will show just how out of touch they are.”

Government ministers said the increase would pay for improvements to the rail network. But campaign groups said commuters were already spending between five and 10 per cent of their salaries getting to work.

And chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, said it was unreasonable that fares should increase three times faster than people’s salaries.

He said: “To increase rail fares by six per cent in such a climate is not just unfair but hugely counter-productive.

“This is no way to stimulate the economy. Our railways need to be affordable to ordinary people, not just ‘train toffs’ on high incomes.”

Wakefield Council’s deputy leader, Coun Denise Jeffery, said: “It is very disappointing, especially when we are trying to encourage more people to use public transport.

“The district needs efficient and affordable public transport, not a hike in fares which will hit people already struggling with the effects of the government’s spending cuts.”

Rail minister Theresa Villiers said fare increases would help with an £18bn government scheme to tackle overcrowding and improve services.

She said: “We are determined to drive down the cost of running the railways so we can put an end to above-inflation fare increases in the future. Our reforms aim to deliver £3.5bn in efficiency savings while continuing to expand services.

“Rail fares are helping to deliver at a time when taxpayer funds are limited by the pressing need to tackle the deficit.”