CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has branded the latest rise in rail fare prices as ‘unfair’ to passengers in North Wales.
For the 10th year in a row ticket prices in Wales have risen above inflation, with average rail fares having gone up by 3.9% across England, Wales and Scotland.
The rises are designed in part to fund major infrastructure improvements over the next few years, but the Clwyd South AM said it was “unfair” commuters in the region were being asked to pay higher fares without a major commitment to electrify the North Wales mainline.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES said:
“This is the tenth year in a row that rail fares have been hiked up above inflation. In North Wales commuters are faced with a rail fare increase as real wages are stagnating and the cost of living is rising.
“In part the justification for this latest rise is to pay for the major infrastructure upgrades that are going to be happening over the next few years. My issue with this is that rail passengers in the region have not been given any sort of commitment about when an upgrade of the mainline in North Wales might take place.
“Electrification is now being timetabled on the Great Western Line between London and Swansea, the South Wales valleys lines will be electrified too and a major High Speed Rail (HS2) route is being planned through central England towards Scotland.
“However we in North Wales have not been given any indication that the extra money we will pay in rail fare increases over the coming years will go toward funding an electrification programme of the North Wales mainline. It is only fair that major increases in rail fares being paid for by passengers and local businesses are linked to infrastructure upgrades.
“We need to see the business case for North Wales electrification progressed urgently and then a coherent plan, backed by both the UK and Welsh Governments, to get the North Wales mainline electrified as soon as possible.
“Research by the Campaign for Better Transport has highlighted that rail fare increases have run 20% higher than real wage rises over the last ten years and I believe that any future increases in rail prices in North Wales over the next few years should be linked to a major plan to provide quicker routes for passengers in the region.”
The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and independent campaign group Railfuture have both calculated that some rail fares have increased by 50% or more in the past 10 years.
The UK Government have said further fare rises are planned for January 2013 and January 2014 of RPI plus 1%.