From Ilkley Gazette, August 16th, 2019
Written by Claire Lomax
ANOTHER rail-fare hike has been condemned by campaigners and Ilkley’s MP. Fury has greeted the Government announcement that regulated ticket prices will rise by up to 2.8 per cent from January. Ilkley's MP John Grogan says the latest increase will mean fares have soared by nearly 40 per cent since 2010 – more than twice the level at which average wages have risen. An annual rail season ticket from both Keighley and Ilkley to Leeds, currently £1,252, will cost about an extra £35 from the start of next year.
“I do not think the performance of operator Northern justifies this increase – nor does the company’s failure to deliver planned improvements to the service on time,” said Mr Grogan.
“About half of all fares – such as season tickets and standard returns – are regulated by the Government and go up by the rise in the retail price index.
“This measure of inflation includes council tax and mortgage interest payment rises and in recent years has increased at a much greater rate than the alternative consumer price index, which the Labour Party favours as a guide to fare increases.”
He said Northern was owned ultimately by Deutsche Bahn and that up until 2016, both the Airedale and Wharfedale lines had been operated by a company in the ultimate ownership of the Dutch Government.
“I think there is a strong case when the franchise comes up for renewal for having the lines publicly-owned and operated here in Britain – not least so any profits can be reinvested in this country,” added Mr Grogan.
The West & North Yorkshire branch of the Campaign for Better Transport has blasted the fares rise as “absolutely scandalous”.
It fears the increase will deter people from using the railways, when bosses should be doing more to encourage passenger usage.
“The way to increase total fare revenue into the rail industry and so cover its costs is to build patronage – which is being negated by the continual increases in annual rail fares,” said a spokesman.
But Northern says it is investing. A spokesman said: “Rail usage has significantly increased in recent years.
“We are investing in major improvements to help customers and, earlier this month, introduced the first of our new trains running to and from Leeds.
“Later this year we will introduce the first of our new trains on the Airedale line. More will follow throughout 2019 and into 2020 as the £500m investment not only increases capacity, but also gives our customers a step-change in journey experience – with free WiFi, air conditioning and at-seat charging points.”