TRAIN fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages since the recession began, according to the TUC which is mounting a protest against the hikes.
Results from the TUC’s Action for Rail campaign reveal that average rail fares have increased by 26.6 per cent nationally since 2008, but wages have risen by just 9.6 per cent.
From January 2, North-East passengers will see an average rise of 4.8 per cent for Northern train fares and a 2.6 per cent increase in East Coast ticket prices.
Rail unions, transport campaigners and passenger groups are meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, December 11) at 50 stations across the country, including Newcastle Central, for a day of action against the increases.
Campaigners will hand out Christmas cards for passengers to lobby their MPs with and the TUC general secretary designate and chair of Action for Rail, Frances O’Grady, described the protests as "an urgent wake-up call to ministers".
He said: “Our current privatised system, which is costing taxpayers a staggering £1.2bn a year, may be a wonderful Christmas present for train companies, but is a huge squeeze on the public purse and commuters.”
A spokesperson for Northern trains said that using its service is often cheaper and quicker than the car or the bus for similar journeys and would remain so in 2013, with an average journey costing £2.24.
She added: “We understand that these are difficult financial times for our customers, which is why we will continue to work with the Government and the wider rail industry to drive down the cost of running the railway to provide better long-term value for money for passengers and taxpayers.”
A spokesman for East Coast trains said that while its average fare would rise by 2.6 per cent, unregulated fares which include advance, anytime and short distance off-peak, will increase by an average of 2.1 per cent.
He said that since 2009 when the franchise was taken into public ownership, East Coast has invested more than £40m in improvements and upgrades.
East Coast is also holding a ‘meet the manager’ event at at Newcastle Central station on Thursday (December, 13) where managers will be on the main concourse between 5pm and 6.30pm to discuss its service with passengers.