RAIL fare increases have sparked a debate about renationalising the railways among Bradford politicians.

Northern Rail, which runs services across Bradford, announced the biggest hike in ticket prices of any UK operator, 4.7 per cent, compared to the average increase of 3.4 per cent. And figures revealed the average age of the company’s trains is 28 years.

John Grogan, MP for Keighley, said Northern passengers are being hit particularly hard and the cost of travel is deterring people from using trains.

He said: “Regulated fares have now risen by 32 per cent since 2010, more than twice the level at which average wages have increased.

“Arriva Trains, which controls Northern Rail, is in turn owned by Deutsche Bahn which is ultimately owned by the German state.

“The question has to be asked, would we not be better operating the lines under British public ownership and save costs by stopping paying profits to the German taxpayer?”

The Green Party is calling for the railways to be renationalised and Shipley Cllr Martin Love from the party said: “The only way to sort out this issue of ever-increasing fares and lack of investment is to bring the railways back into public ownership.

“The privatisation experiment hasn’t worked. There’s an appetite for renationalisation among users. The Government would then be accountable for railways.”

But Conservative MP for Shipley, Philip Davies, said privatisation has “transformed” the network.

He said: “Anyone who can actually remember the old British Rail - the butt of every comedians jokes at the time - would not want them renationalised.

“The price rises are due to the price formula introduced by the last Labour Government of RPI plus 1 per cent. You don’t need to nationalise the railways to change that formula, and clearly hard pressed commuters do deserve some respite from never ending price increases.”

James Vasey, chairman of Bradford Rail Users’ Group said nationalising the railways would mean less money is spent on the network as the network would not be top of the Government’s agenda.

He added: “The fare rises are an annual event so that staff can receive a pay rise, which I’m sure people will understand. There’s a view that the rail companies aren’t doing enough to refurbish the stock but a lot of it is directed by the Government.

“If trains were warm, dry and on time, people might not complain that they were 28 years old.”

A spokesman for Northern Rail said the average price increase for off peak and peak returns will be 30 pence per ticket.

He said: “Northern is delivering new trains, improved trains, better stations and more services to transform local rail for current and future customers in the north by 2020.”