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Freeze the Rail Fares!

September 7, 2020 8:44 PM
By Wiltshire Lib Dems

Train at Trowbridge

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the annual increase in rail fares next January to be cancelled, a move which would save commuters in Wiltshire between £33 and £165 next year, according to the party's analysis.

The proposed 1.6% rise in fares is based on the rise in the Retail Price Index for the 12 months to July 2020.

The rise was higher than expected, reflecting factors such as the lack of summer sales as retailers struggled to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Liberal Democrats argue that any increase in ticket prices will be a "slap in the face" for consumers, when the Government should be trying to get people back onto sustainable forms of transport and investing to improve vital services.

Helen Belcher, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Chippenham, said:

"At a time when so many families are already stretched due to COVID-19, the Conservatives seem happy for commuters in Wiltshire to face yet another hike in the price of their season tickets.

"A freeze on fares would save typical season ticket using commuters in the Chippenham area between £19 and £164 next year.

Ellen Nicholson, Parliamentary Spokesperson for South West Wiltshire, said:

"Liberal Democrats in Wiltshire are calling on the Government to keep costs down for commuters and to bring in new types of season ticket to suit more flexible working patterns. For example, season ticket holders travelling from Trowbridge and Westbury to Bristol Temple Meads will be forced to pay an extra £36.29 or £39.55 and £147.39 more when travelling to London! Similarly, season ticket holders travelling from Tisbury to Salisbury will pay an extra £18.30.

Brian Mathew, Wiltshire Lib Dem Spokesperson for Climate Change and Innovation said:

"Our railways are vital in the fight to tackle the climate emergency and cut air pollution.

At such a crucial time we should be encouraging people to use public transport, not slapping them with higher prices.

"Liberal Democrats are calling for a freeze on fares until the next election, as well as for the Government to publish and implement the Rail Review and invest to increase capacity. If you want to join the fight for a rail fare freeze you can sign the petition on our website,"

Fact check:

The savings referenced in this release are based on figures for an annual season ticket from Chippenham, Westbury and Trowbridge to Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington. The savings referenced for the Salisbury route are based on an annual season ticket from Tisbury to Salisbury and from Salisbury to Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads and London Waterloo.

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."

The rise in fares is higher than expected due to lack of summer sales as a result of coronavirus.

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 wholesale reform of our ticketing system making it more flexible and easier to understand - particularly to suit the increase in flexible working during lockdown.

Main Commuter Routes and Increases in Fares

  • Chippenham > Bath £19.84 increase
  • Chippenham > Bristol Temple Meads £33.89 increase
  • Chippenham > London Paddington £164.00 increase
  • Salisbury > Bath £68.29 increase
  • Salisbury > Bristol Temple Meads £74.75 increase
  • Salisbury > London Paddington £91.97 increase
  • Tisbury > Salisbury £18.30 increase
  • Salisbury > London Waterloo £91.97 increase
  • Trowbridge > Bath Spa £25.86 increase
  • Trowbridge > Bristol temple Meads £36.29 increase
  • Trowbridge > London Paddington £147.39 increase
  • Westbury > Bath Spa £3.21 increase
  • Westbury > Bristol Temple Meads £39.55 increase
  • Westbury > London Paddington £147.39 increase