World Bulletin / News Desk
Protesters took to dozens of busiest rail stations in the U.K. after new rail fares came into effect Tuesday.
Ticket prices have risen by 3.4 percent across the U.K., in the biggest raise since last five years, above consumer price index (CPI) inflation rates and above average increases in annual earnings.
Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer said the increase would help improve services.
“The fares are actually leveraging more investment from private sector and government,” he said.
“It underpins that investment, so we can continue to improve,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain program.
Labour Party shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald condemned “truly staggering” fare increases while speaking to the BBC.
“This franchise system has completely and utterly failed. We have a fractured, expensive and complex system – it duplicates costs and there are dividends going out to subsidize railways on the continent. This is an absolute racket.”
Labour Party press office said rail fares were now “unaffordable for the many”, highlighting huge price hikes since the Tories came into power in 2010.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Passengers are paying more and more for less and less.
“More fare increases and more profit for less train guards and staff and less reliable services.
“Our members are protesting today to say it is time to cut our fares not our staff and for a publicly-owned railway where every penny of passenger revenue goes to improving services.”
Bruce Williamson, from campaign group Railfuture, called for a measure that would use the lower CPI inflation rate to regulate fares.
He said if this measure had been in place since 2004, rail fares would have been 17 percent lower.
He added that people were being “priced out” of getting to work, with British rail fares among "the most expensive in Europe".
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