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Inflation-busting ticket rise anger
A passenger group has called for a halt to “government-dictated” train fare rises that could see increases for Ilkley commuters double the rate of inflation.
Wharfedale Rail Users’ Group (WRUG) claims the latest Government limits on regulated fare increases will put a severe strain on low-income families, and called for regional statistics reveal-ing how travel costs are hitting family budgets.
Annual season tickets for Ilkley to Leeds commuters could cost £1,235 next year, with a peak-time day return costing £8 or more.
The Government last week announced operators will be able to increase regulated rail fares from the New Year by three per cent above inflation.
The higher-than-expected Retail Price Index figure for July – the base used for calculating train fares – was 3.2 per cent, meaning many peak time fares and season tickets could increase by 6.2 per cent.
But unregulated fares, including off-peak travel between Wharfedale Line stations, may rise by more.
And WRUG says an add-itional one per cent premium currently levied in West Yorkshire may increase Wharfedale and Horsforth line-regulated fares to more than seven per cent. The full scale of increases will not be known until December, when operator Northern announ-ces its new fares.
WRUG secretary, Peter Johnson, said: “Irrespective of what they may be, it’s surely time now to call a halt to these government-dictated annual inflation-busting fare increases.
“They will put a severe strain on the budgets of low-income travellers and young people looking for work.”
Mr Johnson welcomed recent investment in the local rail network, but pointed out additional trains brought in on the line are 20 years old.
He questioned Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers’ claim fare increases were necessary in the short-term, and called for “swift action” from railway industry bosses.
“We need a mind-set change from the Transport Ministry to ensure passen-gers aren’t priced off our railways onto already over-crowded roads,” added Mr Johnson “And here in Wharfedale, what is the logic of building thousands more houses for people who cannot find work locally and will have to face ever-increasing fares to travel to find work?”