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Watchdog critical of rises it says are not matched by better service for Bradford commuters
Local rail users’ groups have backed claims from a campaign group that this week’s rail fare rises come at a time of “no perceptible improvement in services”.
The average season ticket increase of 4.2 per cent, which takes effect tomorrow, is the tenth above-inflation increase in a row, said the Railfuture group.
But in West Yorkshire that increase will be around 6.2 per cent, due to an agreement on extra rolling stock acquired back in 2006.
The campaign group said that most passengers would consider it reasonable that there is a correlation between the level of fares and the service they get.
James Vasey, of Bradford Rail Users’ Group, said: “West Yorkshire does have very good regulated fares through Metro, but they have gone up two per cent above the national rate rise for the last three years. What are we actually seeing for this rate rise? What we have had isn’t a great deal and In Bradford the next new thing will be Low Moor station, but that is a few years off.”
He added that the extra rolling stock that meant passengers in the region were paying an extra premium was only used on peak services, so was sitting empty for the vast portion of the day.
Tim Calow, of Aire Valley Rail Users’ Group, said it was true that there was no improvement in services locally.
He said: “The service is already good, particularly on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines. Numbers continue to grow on these lines because of that good service, but it isn’t improving as such.
“Elsewhere in West Yorkshire there are many services using trains that are showing their age and in some cases not fit for purpose.
“It does seem unreasonable that we are paying more in West Yorkshire, which has seen less investment than other areas in the North West.”
Railfuture spokesman Bruce Williamson said: “Yet again, rail fares go up with no perceptible improvement in service.
“Over the last ten years, fares have increased by more than 50 per cent – much more than people’s incomes.”
Mr Williamson said: “Annual increases should be limited to no more than the rate of inflation, and that should be CPI not RPI, because that’s the lower figure and pensions benefits and salaries are all linked to CPI.
“There is an average rise of RPI plus one, but it’s very average, it will vary from area to area and route to route. Some fares are going down a little bit, although you’ll need a magnifying glass to find them. Most people’s fares are going up anywhere between four per cent and 11 per cent or 12 per cent.”
He added: “Our fares are the highest in Europe – do we have the best rail service in Europe? Of course, there are some heavily discounted advance tickets to be had, but people want to just turn up and go at a reasonable price when it suits them.
“Discounting advance tickets is a way of managing passengers to suit the needs of the railway. I think we should be managing the railway to suit the needs of the passengers.”