Rail unions are to blame for fare hikes, Chris Grayling suggests

Protest at Warrington Central over rail fares and job cuts

The confirmation of a 3.2% price increase comes just hours after the transport secretary Chris Grayling said the rail industry should change how it calculates fare rises and staff wages to cut costs for passengers.

Around 40% of fares will rise by this amount in January - it will not affect advance-purchase fares which are not controlled by the government.

The increase is linked to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation for July which was revealed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.

It means an annual season ticket from Brighton to London will go up by £150 to more than £4,800.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has called upon rail companies to base future increases on CPI, but his suggestion that railway employees wages also be pegged to CPI has been criticised.

The RMT union said it opposed Mr Grayling's call - made hours before January's rail fare rise is announced.

"If it wasn't for the profiteering and exploitation that is endemic after more than two decades of rail privatisation, we would have enough cash in the pot to invest in staffing and infrastructure and hold down fares at the same time". It's no longer a question of if our rail services are renationalised, it's a question of when'.

Analysis by the RMT union shows rail fares have increased at twice the rate of wages since 2010.

Who decides how much they go up by?

This is a basket case government and a lame duck transport secretary continuing all-out war on staff and passengers alike. The rest are decided by train companies.

That is why we have taken action to minimise these: regulated ScotRail peak fares increases are capped at the level of the Retail Price Index (RPI) and regulated off-peak fares at one per cent lower than inflation.

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Passenger groups, unions and politicians reacted with anger after the cap on regulated fare rises was confirmed.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, wants to pin fare rises to the lower rate of CPI, which now stands at 2.3 per cent.

In January, the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said RPI has "no merit", adding that "virtually everyone recognises" the alternative Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which is lower. The men and women who run the railway are being singled out while greedy train companies are let off the hook yet again.

"While passengers make a contribution towards the cost of running the railway through rail fares, in Scotland the majority is of rail services costs is met by government subsidy".

Where does the money go?

He said: "This rail fare rise is unwanted, unwelcome and unnecessary".

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, said: "I had to check it wasn't April Fool's Day when Grayling suggested our members should work for less so rail companies can keep their fat profits".

What is the Government's response?

"We're investing heavily in improving the reliability of our existing trains, upgrading stations, making ticket purchase simpler and easier, improving vehicle parks and raising customer service standards, to ensure that our customers get the best possible value for money".

Is there any way of avoiding the fare rise?

Commuters that must buy a season ticket to get to work will be hit the hardest by the hikes according to passenger groups.

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