Off the tracks? Manchester’s workforce ‘penalised’ as evening off-peak rail tickets scrapped

Greater Manchester’s train travellers could soon find themselves out of pocket as Northern Rail have announced that off-peak tickets will no longer be valid in weekday evening peak time travel.

Customers who currently use off-peak tickets during the evening peak will either have to travel earlier, later or fork out more money and buy an anytime ticket in a move described as ‘unfair’.

The plans, which are due to take affect from Monday September 8, have been met with opposition by several organisations.

Andrew Allen from the Campaigns for Better Transport said: “Northern’s evening peak fares will unfairly penalise some of the most disadvantaged and poorly paid in the labour market.

“Not everyone who catches a train around 5pm is a daily commuter or leisure traveller. Many part-time and shift workers will be travelling to or from their jobs at this time.”

The changes are part of the new franchise agreement that was announced in March after the Department for Transport asked Northern to look at several options to help reduce subsidy as part of its new franchise agreement. 

The change to off-peak tickets is the only option that has been taken forward and will be used to reduce the cost of the railway to taxpayers by reducing subsidy to Northern. 

John O’Connell, Director of the Tax Payers Alliance, said: “This is a regrettable but necessary move to reduce the cost of the railway to taxpayers.

“Ultimately, the only way to reduce the cost of train travel and the taxpayer subsidy is to introduce real competition on the railways.

“The monopoly we have at the moment isn’t fit for purpose.”

The announcement comes after rail prices are set to rise by 3.6% on average from next year, an increase of 24.9% in the five years since the Coalition Government came to power.

Full details of the changes are available here.

Image courtesy of Jason Rogers, with thanks

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