VIDEO: Commuters' anger as Government warns regional rail fares could soar to pay for improved services

RISING FARES? Forster Square Station, Bradford, during last night's rush hour

CONCERN: Tim Calow, chairman of Aire Valley Rail Users' Group, who has warned that fare hikes will increase traffic congestion

IN CHARGE: Transport Secretary Patrick McCloughlin who has warned regional rail fares could soar

First published in News
Last updated

RAIL passenger groups reacted with anger last night as the Transport Secretary warned regional fares might have to soar to pay for better services.

Proposals to wipe out fare differences across the country would see the price of tickets climb on cheaper Northern routes, Patrick McLoughlin admitted.

Commuters in West Yorkshire pay up to 60 per cent less than in other parts of the country for short journeys, according to the Department for Transport, although ticket prices are partly subsidised by a Council Tax precept.

For example, an annual season ticket for the ten mile journey between Bradford and Huddersfield is £952 – but Bath to Bristol, a similar distance, costs £1,504.

Asked, by the Telegraph & Argus, if he was ruling out bringing all fares into line, Mr McLoughlin said: “I’m not, er - I’m not actually ruling it in either.”

The proposal is buried in plans for the new Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine franchises, which are due to be awarded late next year and to start in February 2016.

Northern transport bosses say the difference is justified because of lower incomes in the region – as well as by the older trains passengers must use.

But ministers have vowed that these 30-year-old ‘Pacer’ trains – condemned as “cattle trucks” by critics – will finally be replaced, as part of the new contract to run services.

A consultation document for the franchises highlights how ticket prices in the North are “significantly below” prices elsewhere in the country.

And it asks: “What are your views on increasing below-average fares over time to levels on the rest of the network in order to improve the frequency, capacity and quality of local services?”

Quizzed about the plan at Westminster, Mr McLoughlin said: “It’s a consultation document and we are asking for views on it.”

But he added: “I want to see improved services. We are investing a lot of money into rail in the North – the Northern Hub and the new Trans-Pennine services

“There will be more pressure for better services across those areas and, eventually, better rolling stock for those areas too.”

But the threat of much higher fares was immediately attacked by rail passenger groups.

Bradford Rail Users' Group spokesman James Vasey said lower prices reflected much lower investment in the network.

“People in the South are paying more because they are getting more Government spending – about three times as much in the South-East," Mr Vasey said.

“If they push up fares in the North, then they need to triple investment. It will also move people back into cars and make congestion worse.”

Tim Calow, chairman of the Aire Valley Rail Users' Group, said: "This is a big concern.

"The rail fares have gone up more in West Yorkshire in recent years.

"I don't agree with the fare comparisons being made with West Yorkshire and London. The region is more comparable with the West Midlands, around Birmingham.

"The quality of the service is rubbish compared to London.

"Any changes would lead to enormous traffic issues. Bad enough as it is in Saltaire at the moment. We need to keep the cars out of the city centre.

"People would be more likely to go by car if the fail fares went up. In Bradford there is more room for people to park there."

The row could damage George Osborne’s attempt to woo Northern voters by proposing a ‘HS3’ high-speed rail line across the Pennines.

Rail chiefs also recently admitted plans to electrify the route between York, Bradford and Manchester – allowing faster, ‘greener’ services – are in jeopardy, because of doubts over the cost.

Comments (15)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

7:09am Thu 17 Jul 14

OLDLAD says...

Instead of putting prices up to finance improvements they should reduce profits to finance it. Cheaper something is, generally, more people will use.
Instead of putting prices up to finance improvements they should reduce profits to finance it. Cheaper something is, generally, more people will use. OLDLAD
  • Score: 20

7:20am Thu 17 Jul 14

Albion. says...

OLDLAD wrote:
Instead of putting prices up to finance improvements they should reduce profits to finance it. Cheaper something is, generally, more people will use.
Why should fares be subsidised by council tax though?
[quote][p][bold]OLDLAD[/bold] wrote: Instead of putting prices up to finance improvements they should reduce profits to finance it. Cheaper something is, generally, more people will use.[/p][/quote]Why should fares be subsidised by council tax though? Albion.
  • Score: 6

8:00am Thu 17 Jul 14

collos25 says...

They are not really subsidised operators make obscene profits and the subsidy just increases it.The train operators have a powerful lobby in the HofP and have many friends who are MPs they take money from the tax payer to make more profit the whole system in the UK is made for the operators to make as much money as possible.A trip across the channel will see how railways should be run.
They are not really subsidised operators make obscene profits and the subsidy just increases it.The train operators have a powerful lobby in the HofP and have many friends who are MPs they take money from the tax payer to make more profit the whole system in the UK is made for the operators to make as much money as possible.A trip across the channel will see how railways should be run. collos25
  • Score: 11

8:09am Thu 17 Jul 14

micela22 says...

need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train
need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train micela22
  • Score: 16

8:25am Thu 17 Jul 14

Bone_idle18 says...

micela22 wrote:
need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train
To be fair, an advanced saver on a designated train is still a lot cheaper than flying, but anything else can be extortionate.

I recently booked a first class returns to London for £60.

Walk up price would be 5 or more times higher.
[quote][p][bold]micela22[/bold] wrote: need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train[/p][/quote]To be fair, an advanced saver on a designated train is still a lot cheaper than flying, but anything else can be extortionate. I recently booked a first class returns to London for £60. Walk up price would be 5 or more times higher. Bone_idle18
  • Score: 10

9:32am Thu 17 Jul 14

pcmanners says...

The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises.
The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises. pcmanners
  • Score: -7

9:41am Thu 17 Jul 14

hx3bantam says...

Ah but is the train between Bath and Bristol overcrowded, filthy and about 15 years old? It's quite obvious that Northern Rail's stock is archaic and the vast majority of spending is done on the East Coast line. If fares went up any more I'd drive to Manchester instead.
Ah but is the train between Bath and Bristol overcrowded, filthy and about 15 years old? It's quite obvious that Northern Rail's stock is archaic and the vast majority of spending is done on the East Coast line. If fares went up any more I'd drive to Manchester instead. hx3bantam
  • Score: 12

9:57am Thu 17 Jul 14

bluebluerobin says...

Bradford already has some of the most congested roads in Europe. The reality of which is already seriously undermining the hopes of Cllr. Green's 'Producer City' initiative. Any policy which puts more cars onto Bradford's overloaded infrastructure is a profound mistake.
Bradford already has some of the most congested roads in Europe. The reality of which is already seriously undermining the hopes of Cllr. Green's 'Producer City' initiative. Any policy which puts more cars onto Bradford's overloaded infrastructure is a profound mistake. bluebluerobin
  • Score: 12

10:19am Thu 17 Jul 14

bcfc1903 says...

Didn't actually realise the Calder Valley line was up for electrification, shocking if this much needed scheme is heading for the buffers. As for putting West Yorkshire rail fares in line with with the South East, can we also have comparable wages and quality trains and services, I fancy those particular wages,trains and services will be late arriving or cancelled altogether. Having had the misfortune of travelling by train from Colne to Blackpool recently, the words cattle trucks are quite apt.
Didn't actually realise the Calder Valley line was up for electrification, shocking if this much needed scheme is heading for the buffers. As for putting West Yorkshire rail fares in line with with the South East, can we also have comparable wages and quality trains and services, I fancy those particular wages,trains and services will be late arriving or cancelled altogether. Having had the misfortune of travelling by train from Colne to Blackpool recently, the words cattle trucks are quite apt. bcfc1903
  • Score: 3

10:31am Thu 17 Jul 14

Albion. says...

Bone_idle18 wrote:
micela22 wrote:
need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train
To be fair, an advanced saver on a designated train is still a lot cheaper than flying, but anything else can be extortionate.

I recently booked a first class returns to London for £60.

Walk up price would be 5 or more times higher.
Not forgetting of course that this is about regional fares and they are cheaper than most areas.
[quote][p][bold]Bone_idle18[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]micela22[/bold] wrote: need improved road network, not rail network. This takes the emphasis off both the local and national failing outdated road network. I live in Queensbury, how is an improved rail network going to attract me to Bradford City Centre, or anywhere else as I`d have to travel by car to get to a station. The train prices are already too high and complex to use, was cheaper for 2 of us to fly down south than it was to go by train[/p][/quote]To be fair, an advanced saver on a designated train is still a lot cheaper than flying, but anything else can be extortionate. I recently booked a first class returns to London for £60. Walk up price would be 5 or more times higher.[/p][/quote]Not forgetting of course that this is about regional fares and they are cheaper than most areas. Albion.
  • Score: 3

11:27am Thu 17 Jul 14

angry bradfordian says...

I'm not sure that the passenger groups can simply say that fares should stay the same because the South East has 3 times more investment.
There isn't any alternative but to use public transport in London and the numbers of people there using it probably justify the extra investment.
As a comparison there are 800 million journeys just through mainline London stations (ignoring local lines) whereas Leeds has 36 million and Manc Piccadilly 28 million.

It's probably a chicken & egg situation- it needs more infrastructure to get more passengers but it needs more people to justify the investment. On the positive note, the Northern Hun scheme is certainly a good start,
I'm not sure that the passenger groups can simply say that fares should stay the same because the South East has 3 times more investment. There isn't any alternative but to use public transport in London and the numbers of people there using it probably justify the extra investment. As a comparison there are 800 million journeys just through mainline London stations (ignoring local lines) whereas Leeds has 36 million and Manc Piccadilly 28 million. It's probably a chicken & egg situation- it needs more infrastructure to get more passengers but it needs more people to justify the investment. On the positive note, the Northern Hun scheme is certainly a good start, angry bradfordian
  • Score: -2

11:47am Thu 17 Jul 14

Count Jim Moriarty says...

pcmanners wrote:
The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises.
Rubbish. The railways were (incompetently) privatised for the benefit of the Tories' cronies in the city. The only privatised line that has run efficiently is the East Coast main line that was taken back into state running. The rest are just used as cash cows by appalling outfits like Stagecoach Virgin and First.
[quote][p][bold]pcmanners[/bold] wrote: The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises.[/p][/quote]Rubbish. The railways were (incompetently) privatised for the benefit of the Tories' cronies in the city. The only privatised line that has run efficiently is the East Coast main line that was taken back into state running. The rest are just used as cash cows by appalling outfits like Stagecoach Virgin and First. Count Jim Moriarty
  • Score: 2

12:09pm Thu 17 Jul 14

angry bradfordian says...

Count Jim Moriarty wrote:
pcmanners wrote:
The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises.
Rubbish. The railways were (incompetently) privatised for the benefit of the Tories' cronies in the city. The only privatised line that has run efficiently is the East Coast main line that was taken back into state running. The rest are just used as cash cows by appalling outfits like Stagecoach Virgin and First.
In 1987 there were 800 million railway journeys; in 2010 there were 1350 million journeys so everything can't be that much worse than they used to be.

Some people seem to have a very rose-tinted view of the nationalised railway system. I can only remember dirty, ancient trains; appalling customer service from staff who thought passengers were an inconvenience and food that was terrible and the source of many a 'BR Sandwich' joke!
The trains are by no means perfect, but they're miles better than they were 25 years ago.
[quote][p][bold]Count Jim Moriarty[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]pcmanners[/bold] wrote: The Government should remember that it privatised the railways so that the companies could charge whatever rate the market determined. The state should not interfere with private enterprises.[/p][/quote]Rubbish. The railways were (incompetently) privatised for the benefit of the Tories' cronies in the city. The only privatised line that has run efficiently is the East Coast main line that was taken back into state running. The rest are just used as cash cows by appalling outfits like Stagecoach Virgin and First.[/p][/quote]In 1987 there were 800 million railway journeys; in 2010 there were 1350 million journeys so everything can't be that much worse than they used to be. Some people seem to have a very rose-tinted view of the nationalised railway system. I can only remember dirty, ancient trains; appalling customer service from staff who thought passengers were an inconvenience and food that was terrible and the source of many a 'BR Sandwich' joke! The trains are by no means perfect, but they're miles better than they were 25 years ago. angry bradfordian
  • Score: -1

4:52pm Thu 17 Jul 14

justjustice says...

It's always price increases due to inflation or help fund improvements.

But do our wages increase with inflation? No!
Do we actually see any improvements? No!

The government should be demanding evidence of improvements and agreement with commuters that they have seen said improvements before another increase should be made!
It's always price increases due to inflation or help fund improvements. But do our wages increase with inflation? No! Do we actually see any improvements? No! The government should be demanding evidence of improvements and agreement with commuters that they have seen said improvements before another increase should be made! justjustice
  • Score: 1

4:55pm Thu 17 Jul 14

justjustice says...

I mean soon we'll be working just to pay to get to work! How will people put food on the table, assuming they have a table, or even a house to put a table in!

The government simply doesnt look at the whole picture. you can increase prices, reduce benefits, throw people off JSA to fudge unemployment figures; but they do not look at the affects of this; such as increased crime, child poverty, etc.

MPs simply do not have a clue of what the real world is or how it works!
I mean soon we'll be working just to pay to get to work! How will people put food on the table, assuming they have a table, or even a house to put a table in! The government simply doesnt look at the whole picture. you can increase prices, reduce benefits, throw people off JSA to fudge unemployment figures; but they do not look at the affects of this; such as increased crime, child poverty, etc. MPs simply do not have a clue of what the real world is or how it works! justjustice
  • Score: -1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree