Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, has criticised the decision to increase rail fares by 2.8% from January 2020. The increased fare is calculated using the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation. The MP has called for the fare increase to be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate which would lower the increase by almost 1%.
Speaking this week, the MP said “Given that it takes almost 2 hours to get to London from Bexhill, these increases are not justified. Whilst earnings are now rising faster than inflation, this will cause pressure for hard-pressed rail passengers who struggle to pay their bills. Last year, the Government called on the industry and unions to adopt the CPI measure of inflation when setting fares. Many pay awards in the public sector are calculated using this method but the rail unions refused to agree. With salaries accounting for a third of a train operator’s costs, passengers are left with a higher fare increase to cover rail pay rises. It’s time for the rail industry to modernise, embrace technology and pass on the benefits to passengers in the form of lower prices.”
The fare rises have been announced as the Government is mid-way through an overhaul of the way in which the rail industry operates. Huw, a member of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, said “We have an opportunity to change the game for rail travel and make the pricing structure fairer and more transparent. Tough decisions must not be bottled or this opportunity will be wasted.”