Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Commuters Face 10% Rise in Rail Fares; Anger over Fare Rises for 'Cattle-Truck Commuting'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Commuters Face 10% Rise in Rail Fares; Anger over Fare Rises for 'Cattle-Truck Commuting'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Chief Political Correspondent

COMMUTERS were warned today they face fare rises of up to 10 per cent with journeys at peak times being made in "cattle truck" conditions.

Transport union bosses issued the stark warning after Transport Secretary Philip Hammond signalled he may scrap the current system which links rail fares to inflation, plus one per cent.

Mr Hammond suggested that the system may be ditched as a result of the autumn spending review, in which government departments will have to find savings of up to 25 per cent.

Under the existing system, commuters using the busiest lines at peak times would face fare rises of six per cent in January next year if inflation stays at current levels. However, Mr Hammond failed to rule out even bigger increases if his budget is shredded in the review -- experts say the cut could be as much as 33 per cent.

He said: "We are hoping we will be able to hold on to the formula but we need to wait for the spending settlement before I can say exactly what I have to do next year." Plans for 1,300 extra carriages to ease overcrowding are also set to be scaled back.

There was an immediate backlash from commuter groups, Labour and union bosses. Speaking from the RMT's annual meeting in Aberdeen, general secretary Bob Crow said: "It could not be clearer -- the Government are planning to bleed rail passengers dry and attack essential modernisation programmes while ring-fencing the profits of the train operators.

"That's not sharing the pain. We could see fares jacked up by as much as 10 per cent while passengers are crammed into ancient carriages running on creaking track with huge safety risks the length and breadth of the country."

Regulated fares include season tickets, peak-time tickets, full-fare commuter singles and returns and saver off-peak tickets on long-distance routes. …

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