LABOUR'S Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Keighley and Ilkley last week spoke at the town's station to rail commuters facing a triple whammy of rail fare rises over the coming months.
John Grogan joined members of Ilkley Labour Party at the railway station on the day new official figures were published to show that RPI inflation rose by 2.5 per cent in July.
Regulated rail fares – which include season tickets – are allowed to rise by July’s RPI figure plus one per cent, and will therefore increase by 3.5 per cent in January 2015, unless the Government intervenes.
Mr Grogan said this would mean local season tickets will rise as follows: Keighley to Leeds will cost £1196 a year from January 1, 2015 – up £40 on last year; Ilkley to Leeds will cost £1196 a year, up £40 on last year and Steeton and Silsden to Leeds will cost £1271 a year – up £43 on last year.
He said next year’s fare hikes will mean rail fares will have increased by 24.9 per cent over the current parliament (2010 to 2015), and have risen faster than wages in every year. Over the same period, average earnings have increased by just 10.7 per cent, meaning rail fares have risen more than twice as fast as wages under the same period.
Mr Grogan said: "Keighley and Ilkley's rail commuters face a triple whammy of rail fare increases in the future. This week we learnt about the increases for season tickets due next January. Last week we learnt that Northern Rail are changing the definition of peak time travel dramatically increasing travel costs for those who had previously delayed their journey to work until after 9.30am returning in the late afternoon."
Finally Mr Grogan said the cost of rail commuting could soar once a new rail franchise on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines is introduced in 2016. Services on these lines are part of the Northern Rail franchise. The Department of Transport has recently published a consultation document on the franchise renewal which highlights the fact that fares in the Leeds area are cheaper than the national average.The document points out that fares in Leeds are currently much lower than in the South East.
Mr Grogan added: "The agenda here is a clear one - preparing the ground for yet more big rises in rail fares for commuters in West Yorkshire including those from Keighley, Ilkley and Steeton and Silsden.The truth is that by far the greatest share of national rail subsidies goes into London and the South East. Average wages in West Yorkshire are well below those in the capital.
"I think if savings are required one option would be for the public sector to be allowed to put in a proposal to run the service directly as currently is done on the Eastcoast mainline. This could save Northern Rail's profit margin which has been as high as £40 million a year."