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Rail fare hike prompts protests outside Norfolk railway stations

PUBLISHED: 07:20 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:07 02 January 2019

Labour's Karen Davis (right) among protestors at Norwich Railway Station. pic: Karen Davis.

Labour's Karen Davis (right) among protestors at Norwich Railway Station. pic: Karen Davis.

Karen Davis

An increase in rail fares has prompted protests outside railway stations in Norfolk.

Jo Rust (left), with protestors at King's Lynn railway station. Pic: Jo Rust.Jo Rust (left), with protestors at King's Lynn railway station. Pic: Jo Rust.

Protests were held at railway stations in Norwich and King’s Lynn on Wednesday, January 2, as part of a national campaign.

Karen Davis, city councillor and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, was one of those protesting outside the city’s station.

She said: “Up early this morning outside Norwich station campaigning against yet another Tory rail fare hike. Average fare up by 36pc this new year. Time for a railway which works for the many, not the few.”

Fellow Labour campaigner Jo Rust was among those campaigning outside King’s Lynn railway station.

Protests have been held in Norwich and King's Lynn over rail fare increases. Pic: Ben Birchall/PA WireProtests have been held in Norwich and King's Lynn over rail fare increases. Pic: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The cost of many rail season tickets rose by more than £100 due to the annual price hike, which a rail campaign group described as “another kick in the wallet” for passengers.

The protests came as research showed UK passengers spend up to five times as much on season tickets as other European travellers.

The TUC said the 3.1pc rise in season tickets was higher than the expected growth in wages this year of 2.5pc.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The most reliable thing about our railways is the cash that goes to private shareholders each year, but with the most expensive fares in Europe, that can’t be right. It’s rewarding failure and taking money away that should be invested in better services.

“It’s time to take the railways back into public hands. Every penny from every fare should go back into the railways. The number one priority should be running a world-class railway service, not private profit.”

The rail industry insists the “vast majority” of revenue from fares covers the day-to-day costs of running the railway.

Robert Nisbet, regional director of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, acknowledged “nobody wants to pay more for their journey to work” but insisted money from fares is being used to “build the better railway customers want”.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling marked the increase in fares by announcing that a new railcard to extend child fares to 16 and 17 year olds will be available in time for the new academic year in September.

A railcard for 26-30 year olds goes on general sale at noon today.

Mr Grayling claimed the government’s “record investment” in the rail network will help passengers get the “frequent, affordable and reliable journeys they deserve”.

Increases in around 45pc of fares, including season tickets, are regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments.

They are predominantly capped at July’s RPI inflation figure, which was 3.2pc.

Other fare rises are decided by train companies.

It has been the policy of successive governments to re-balance the funding of the railways between passengers and taxpayers.

This has resulted in a reduction in the relative contribution of taxpayers, and an increase in fares.

Office of Rail and Road figures for 2017/18 show revenue from fares and other passenger charges reached £9.7bn.

The Department for Transport has commissioned former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams to carry out a root and branch review of Britain’s railway, including fares.

Q&A on rail fares

Why do fares go up?

Successive governments have chosen to reduce the relative funding of the railways by taxpayers and increase the contribution of passengers.

Are all fares treated the same?

The increase in about 45pc of fares is regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments. Other fares are set by train operators.

Which fares are regulated?

Regulated fares include season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and flexible tickets for use in major cities.

How much will regulated fares increase by?

Price rises for these tickets are capped at July’s RPI figure, which was 3.2pc.

There is an exception in Scotland as its government caps regulated off-peak fare increases at RPI minus one percentage point.

What do passenger groups say?

They claim people are being priced off the railways because wages are not increasing at the same rate as fares.

What impact have fare rises had on demand?

Passenger numbers have more than doubled since the network was privatised in the mid-1990s.

Where does the money go?

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group says profit margins for rail firms are about 2%, with the rest going on running the railway.

What improvements are being made?

The Department for Transport says it is investing in the biggest modernisation of the network since Victorian times, with major projects to provide faster and better trains with more seats.

MORE: Top tips on how to beat the rail fares rise

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