Labour announces biggest ever rail fares cut of 33% in move that will save the average commuter over £1000 per year
On Monday, Labour will announce the biggest ever cuts to rail fares in England. The move comes after the government announced that rail fares are set to rise again by an average of 2.7% next year.
Fares have risen by 40% since the Tories took office in 2010 – more than double the rate of wage growth:
Labour’s plans for an integrated railway under public ownership will:
- cut regulated rail fares by 33% from January 2020, saving the average commuter £1097 a year
- guarantee fair fares for part-time workers
- deliver a simple, London-style ticketing system across the nation
- make rail travel free for those 16 years old and under
Most commuter fares including peak time fares and season tickets are regulated fares, which make up almost half of all tickets sold – and these will be reduced by 33%, the biggest ever reduction in rail fares.
The measure is needed to tackle the crisis of soaring, unaffordable rail prices and give relief to millions of rail commuters who have endured years of excessive price rises.
Help for part-time workers
Labour will also guarantee fair fares for part time workers – currently hugely disadvantaged – by ensuring that workers who commute fewer than 5 days a week pay no more per journey than full-time workers who use weekly season tickets – meaning part-time workers will see their fares cut by more than a third, too.
Labour will also reform and simplify fares and ticketing – replacing the current system with a simple, London-style ticketing system across the nation, with contactless payments and zonal rail fares that will apply across all modes of public transport. There will also be an option to ‘pay as you go’ with a daily cap on the maximum price a traveller pays.
Free for under-16s
Rail travel will be made free for those aged 16 years and younger to encourage young people to use public transport, tackle generational inequality and make family holidays more affordable.
Great for economy and environment
Labour’s publicly-owned, integrated railway plan will ensure easy and affordable access to sustainable public transport to boost economic growth and reduce road traffic to ease congestion, reduce air pollution and lower climate emissions.
Ending the rail rip-off and taking back control
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
Travelling by train is my favourite way of getting around the country but for too long a fragmented and privatised rail system has ripped-off passengers.
Taking back control of our railways is the only way to bring down fares and create a railway network that is fit for the future.
Labour will bring about real change on the railways because we are on the side of passengers.
Simple and clear
The Tory-created hodge-podge of systems and providers has created an astonishingly complicated system for any UK rail user to navigate, with a staggering 55 million fares – that’s almost 3,400 different fares per kilometre of UK rail track.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald added:
Privatisation has created one of the most complex, exploitative and expensive ticketing systems in the world. Labour will scrap the bewildering and outdated fares and ticketing system that discriminates against part-time workers, discourages rail travel and excludes the young and low paid.
Labour is on the side of passengers which is why we will introduce a simpler, fairer and more affordable system for all, integrated with other forms of public transport. Rail passengers who want to save hundreds or thousands of pounds next year need to vote Labour on 12th December. Labour will deliver a railway in public ownership for the many, not the few.
Decisions on whether to fund rail fare reductions in Scotland and Wales are a matter for the devolved governments, but this policy clears the way for Scotland and Wales to follow suit if they wish. In the meantime the fare reduction will apply to rail journeys wholly or partly within England.
The fragmented nature of the privatised railway frustrates the coordinated reform required to implement reform of fares and ticketing and integration across public transport, so the Labour government will work with local transport authorities to define ‘islands’ within which zonal rail fares apply across all modes of public transport, with an affordable daily price cap.
Longer distance rail journeys will form ‘bridges’ between the islands, for trips where passengers need to know the price in advance to judge whether to flex their journey time to get off-peak rates. Fares for these journeys will become simple and transparent, with mainly distance-related, ‘single-leg’ pricing, where the return price is always the combined outward and return leg prices. Apart from higher ‘peak’ prices other complexities will be wiped out.
Labour will reduce the cost of single peak fares to 1/10th the cost of a whole week season ticket, so part-time workers will no longer incur higher per journey costs than full-time workers.
Labour forecasts indicate that £1.5 billion per year will be spent on this policy, based on regulated fare revenue data from Office of Rail and Road and single/weekly season price ratios from the National Fares Manual.
This funding will come from existing Deoartment for Transport (DfT) budgets, drawn from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
VED is forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility to raise £6.5 bn in the 2019-20 financial year. The Tories plan to grab this money to fund major new road-building projects from 2020, whilst excluding repair of potholes and other road maintenance.
Labour will expand this hypothecation of VED to form a sustainable transport fund for rail and other sustainable modes of travel and to address the pothole backlog. If this money were to be spent on road building it would increase traffic, congestion and carbon emissions, the opposite of what is needed to reach the UK’s commitment to climate targets and to clean up polluted air.
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