New Year's rail fare increases hurting Swansea commuters
THEY are one of the new year's least favourite arrivals.
And yesterday's annual rail fare increases have prompted a claim that travelling by train has become "an extravagance that many struggle to afford".
Some rail season ticket holders have been hit by fare rises of more than 50 per cent in the past ten years, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
But train operators said it was the Government which decided how much season tickets should rise on average each year.
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This year the average season ticket increase is 4.3 per cent, while the overall rise for all tickets is 3.9 per cent.
CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "It's truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares."
CBT has started a petition calling on the Government to name a date to end the above-inflation formula used for determining the annual rise and commit to reducing fares relative to inflation.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC), which has launched its own campaign, claimed that a "huge disparity" between fare and wage increases meant that a family of four looking to travel to London on an "anytime" ticket from Swansea in 2013 would have to pay more than the average weekly wage of £481.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "I understand the frustration felt by many commuters going back to work. At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases.
"As well as having to shell out record amounts of money for their tickets, passengers also face the prospect of travelling on trains with fewer staff and having less access to ticket offices. They are being asked to pay much more for less."
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: "We understand commuters don't like to pay more to travel but it is the Government, not train companies, that decides how much season tickets should rise on average each year."
"Successive Governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.
"Ministers want passengers to pay a larger share of railway running costs to reduce the contribution from taxpayers while sustaining investment in better stations, new trains and faster services."