Critics slam 'Great Train Robbery' as fares set to rocket

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Campaigners and unions have slammed the Government's announcement that it will allow rail companies to increase prices.

train fares set to rocket

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As of 1 January 2013, rail networks will be able to raise their 'regulated' fares by three per cent more than the RPI inflation figure for July, revealed yesterday as 3.2 per cent.

In effect, that means the average train traveller will face a fare increase of at least 6.2 per cent - but rail companies are also able to boost their coffers by adding up to five per cent on unregulated fares.

In total, passengers could then face a rise of 11 per cent.

While the train companies insist it was not their decision to increase fares, which have risen above the level of inflation every year for the past ten years, but passenger groups and trade unions have blasted the move.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, told the Daily Mail: "If the Government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries. With the economy flat-lining, this is untenable.

"Our railways need to be affordable to ordinary people, not just 'train-toffs' on high incomes."

The fare increases mean that the average yearly season ticket will rise by £138 to £2,364, but some unlucky commuters could be paying upwards of £5,000 in the new year.

Ministers insist the price increases were a necessary evil, as the extra cash would fund billions of pounds-worth of investment in the rail networks.

But Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "This is a bigger rip-off than the Great Train Robbery.

"This money will not be invested back in services, it will be trousered by the greedy train operators."

What do you think? Should rail fares be frozen given the economic climate, or is investment in the networks essential? Leave your comments below...