Increase rail fares prompt protests

RAIL PROTEST: Action for Rail protesters protest increase in fares at Thornaby Station. Pictured Louise Baldock Labour candidate, Mark Edmundson Unison northern area organiser, Pete Widlinski and Cllr Tracey Stott . Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

RAIL PROTEST: Action for Rail protesters protest increase in fares at Thornaby Station. Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT

RISING FARES: Action for Rail protesters at Thornaby Station this morning pictured Tracey Stott Stockton councillor, Pete Widlinski and Mark Edmundson Unison northern area organiser. Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT.

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

ABOVE inflation increases in train fares prompted protests at the region's rail stations.

Campaigners from Action for Rail gathered at stations in the region on Tuesday (August 19) as it was revealed that regulated rail fares would rise by 3.5 per cent from January next year.

The announcement follows the release of July's inflation figures.

Under the formula, average fares in England are due to go up by July's Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, plus one per cent.

RPI was 2.5 per cent last month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, under a "flex" rule, train companies can raise fares by two per cent above the average, as long as the overall average stays at RPI plus one per cent.

As a result, some fares could increase by 5.5 per cent next year.

Protester Anna Turley, Labour parliamentary candidate for Redcar, spoke to travellers at the town's station.

She said: "When I spoke to people it was clear they are frustrated and angry about rising prices and low quality trains.

"We want to encourage people to get into work but transport can be the biggest barrier."

Transport Minister Claire Perry said high fares could be avoided if passengers booked in advance.

"Forty five per cent of tickets are now bought in advance. People don’t just rock up and pay the maximum amount."

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