Having campaigned in recent months over the abolition of evening off-peak fares at Greenfield station and the coalition Government’s decision to ‘modernise’ the 30 year old Pacer trains on northern lines rather than replace them, I am appalled that David Cameron, supported by the Lib Dems, has allowed train companies to hit commuters across the region with these huge increases in fares since they took office together.
Labour will give passengers a voice about how the railways are run and stop passengers getting fleeced at ticket machines by making it a legal right for passengers to be sold the cheapest available ticket for their journey.
The Tories and Lib Dems have simply failed to stand up for the working people of Oldham, Saddleworth, and the North West region, who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis as fare increases outstrip wage increases by a considerable margin. In some areas commuters are paying 17% of their income on getting to and from work.
We’ve seen a pitifully low level of investment in the rail system across the north so I share my constituents’ concerns that this extra revenue will end up in the pockets of shareholders rather than being ploughed into improvements in local rail services.
Once again I am left deeply concerned about how the Department for Transport is treating the North of England, and my constituents in Oldham East and Saddleworth, with the recent news that Pacer carriages will not be replaced; Greenfield will not have full disabled access installed when electrification is finished; the abolition of off-peak fares and, now, another rail fare increase for the start of 2015.
The Government’s rhetoric about improving connectivity across the north, and creating a world-class rail network, is not matched by their actions. And when Ministers talk about ‘fair fares for comfortable commuting’ it’s just insulting. They must live a world away from the reality facing millions of rail users everyday.