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Lib Dems call for a rail fare freeze

August 20, 2020 7:10 PM
By Rugby Lib Dems

Rugby train stationThe Liberal Democrats are calling for a freeze on rail fares following the announcement that the Retail Price Index rose by 1.6% in July, which will be used to calculate the increase in fares at the end of the year.

The Liberal Democrats suggest that any increase in fares would be "a slap in the face" for consumers. Given the significant drop in passenger numbers due to COVID-19, the Party is calling for fare freezes to help restore confidence in the railways.

The Party want to see additional funding to increase capacity and build a network "fit for the future", vital if the UK Government are serious about cutting emissions and reducing air pollution.

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

"Any plans to go ahead with a fare increase this year will be a slap in the face for consumers.

"Our railways are a key part of a sustainable transport network, vital in the fight to tackle the climate emergency and cut air pollution. Rather than putting off commuters with yet another price hike, the Government must help the industry recover from the COVID-19 crisis. This means freezing fares and investing to increase capacity to make sure we have a rail network that is fit for the future.

"Liberal Democrats want to see a freeze on fares until the next election. We also want to see the Conservative Government publish and implement the Rail Review, reform our broken ticket system and stop micromanaging the railways. These changes will help restore confidence in UK railways."

Liberal Democrats are calling for a freeze on "regulated fares" - these are the ticket prices regulated by the government and cover most commuter fares and season tickets. Roughly 34% of fares are "regulated fares."

In September 2018, the government commissioned a "root and branch" review of the railways led by former CEO of British Airways Keith Williams - the Conservatives have still not published his findings.

Similarly, the industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have called for a wholescale reform of our ticketing system making it more flexible and easier to understand - particularly to suit the increase in flexible working during lockdown.

Liberal Democrats would:

  • Create of a new Railway Agency, to oversee the day-to-day operations of the railway.

  • Extend Britain's rail network, improve stations, reopen smaller stations and restore twin-track lines to major routes. Improve the experience of people who rely on the railways for work by investing in commuter routes.

  • Convert the rail network to ultra-low-emission technology (electric or hydrogen) by 2035.

  • Invest £15 billion over the next Parliament to reopen rail lines and accelerate decarbonisation of the railways.

  • Fix the broken fares and ticketing system so that it provides better value for money. Changing the annual fare increase calculation from RPI to CPI following the fare freeze.

  • Start a revolution in rail franchising by opening up the bidding process to public sector companies, local or combined authorities, not-for-profits and mutuals.

  • Build into new rail franchise agreements a stronger focus on customers, including investment in new stations, lines and modern trains. Be far more proactive in sacking train operators if they fail to provide a high-quality public service