Oldham MP launches stinging attack on Government over 25% rail fare hike

Oldham MP Debbie Abrahams has launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister David Cameron after it was revealed commuters in her constituency had seen train fare increases of almost 25% in the last five years.

It was confirmed last week that the cost of commuter – or regulated – rail fares will rise by 1% in January 2016, in line with the July Retail Price Index rate.

And Ms Abrahams says that means rail users from her Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency will be paying 24% more for an annual season ticket for one popular commuter journey then they were in 2010.

Figures released last week show that the cost of an annual season ticket from Greenfield to Huddersfield – a journey of just seven miles – will have risen since 2010 by £316, to £1,628. 

And Ms Abrahams said: “This is for a journey of seven miles that takes just 21 minutes and is already wildly overpriced given the failure of the Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire transport authorities to agree an affordable cross-border fare policy.

“Earlier this year, David Cameron said that higher rail fares were necessary to fund improvement projects, which were promised in the Conservative manifesto. But, just weeks after the general election, key rail investment projects were then cancelled.

“It is vital that the Government does not break its election promise to passengers as they have done over the electrification of lines in the Midlands and the North.”

Action for Rail, a campaign led by the TUC and trade unions, has again renewed calls for trains to be brought back into public ownership.

Research commissioned by the group earlier this year showed that public ownership could save £1.5bn over the next five years,  with savings passed on to passengers and taxpayers – season tickets alone could be 10 per cent cheaper by 2017.

Ms Abrahams has already come out in support for Andy Burnham in the Labour leadership race with the Leigh MP promising a radical shake-up of the rail network, with renationalisation among his priorities.

She said: “Andy will create a new ‘National Rail’ governing body to end the fragmentation of privatisation. It will ensure that passengers experience a truly unified rail and ticketing system across the country.

“He believes that, as with the East Coast Main Line, a public operator will show it can compete, and beat, private operating companies. By proving its success, the public operator will allow for the progressive re-nationalisation of the railways.

“He’ll conduct a major review of rail investment priorities and campaign for high-speed West to East train links to deliver the connections that are needed to boost the economies of our northern cities, and to improve routes through the South West to Cornwall.

“That’s the kind of radical shake up our rail system needs and Andy is the man with the vision and strength to make it happen.”

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