Train firms dispute fares report

Train ticket with train in backgroundTrain fares on some of the country's busiest routes have increased up to three times faster than the cost of living since the rail industry was privatised 20 years ago, according to a new report.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) published a list of the biggest rises, saying a walk-on fare from London to Manchester had jumped by 208%, to Exeter by 205% and to Cardiff by 196%.

The Retail Price Index has increased by 66% in the same period.

Train companies disputed the report, saying it only covered a handful of the most expensive fares.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "Private rail firms were given a licence to print money in the 1990s and they have been ripping off passengers ever since.

"This chart demolishes the Tories' claim when they sold off British Rail - namely that fares would get cheaper.

"What we have seen is little more than legalised daylight robbery on a grand scale. Passengers have suffered all the pain, while private operators have seen all the gains. Now we are number one in Europe for the highest fares."

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "This is misleading because out of the millions of tickets on sale, the TSSA has only looked at a handful of the most expensive tickets which only a tiny minority of passengers buy.

"Based on figures from the rail regulator, the average price paid for a single journey is £4.95 compared with £4.82 in 1995 when inflation is taken into account."