Bid to stop huge train fare hikes

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CRIPPLING 10 per cent fare hikes will hit city commuters next year - the biggest price rise in the country.

Councillors have slammed the move and transport bosses are locked in talks with the Department of Transport to try and curb the increase.

UK rail operators are being allowed to charge three per cent above the rate of Retail Price Inflation (RPI) - which hit 4.8 per cent this week - from next December.

West Yorkshire fares were already rising at RPI plus two per cent under a deal made in 2006 to pay for more train capacity.

That means the region faces a massive 10 per cent increase in season tickets in 2012. The £840 annual rail fare from Wakefield, Bradford, Castleford or Dewsbury into Leeds is to soar by £84 to £924.

On Wednesday Wakefield councillors passed a motion tabled by council leader Peter Box to condemn the move.

Coun Box said rail operators had been given the freedom to to manipulate prices.

He said: “Its a disgrace that the government is allowing rail operators to charge whatever fares they want.”

The West Yorkshire funding deal was hammered out in 2006 to lease six additional two carriage trains, at a cost of £20m, to ease overcrowding on some of the region’s busiest rail routes.

The extra trains, which provide more than 800 additional seats at peak times, were to be partly paid for by a higher cap on regulated fares, which includes season tickets and saver fares.

The deal was made before chancellor George Osborne announced a national cap on regulated fare rises at three per cent above inflation in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Bosses at West Yorkshire transport authority Metro said they were in early-stage discussions with the Department of Transport (DfT) over the fare hikes.

A Metro spokesman said: “Metro and Northern Rail are in discussions with the DfT at the moment about ways in which this situation can be mitigated, but no decisions have been made yet.”