Anger as train fares rise for a tenth year

Wednesday 02 January 2013 Updated: 04/01 14:27

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PROTESTS were held at Coventry train station on Wednesday as anger grows over rising fares.

A collection of pressure groups held the early morning rally as part of efforts to lobby politicians and train firms over the average 4.2 per cent season ticket hike.

Leaders of the Fair Fail campaign said the inflation-busting rise - which is as high as six per cent on some routes - was the tenth in as many years.

It comes as London Midland passengers were offered £7million of free tickets as compensation for the disruption caused by a recent shortage of drivers.

A spokesman for the Fare Fail campaign - led by Together for Transport - said: "Rail fares are currently rising three times faster than wages, so January's increase will have a severe detrimental impact on Britain's millions of commuters and train passengers.

"By the end of this Parliament fares will have increased by a staggering 20 to 25 per cent."

Train firms have defended the increase while government ministers said they were planning to cap them from 2015.

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said: "Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.

"Ministers want passengers to pay a larger share of railway running costs to reduce the contribution from taxpayers while sustaining investment in better stations, new trains and faster services.

"Train companies are working with the rest of the rail industry to cut the costs per passenger and so give ministers the opportunity in future to move away from their policy of above-inflation annual fare rises."

The London Midland compensation scheme for passengers affected by the driver shortage will see all season ticket holders get five days free travel.

However calls for the firm to be stripped of the franchise have fallen on deaf ears with the Department for Transport confirming it has extended its contract until 2015. It was due to end this year.

A London Midland spokesman said: "We recognise recent disruption has been unacceptable to passengers. It is also not what we expect of ourselves and we are sorry, but the government has concluded we are we are best placed to deliver improvements measures."

Transport minister Norman Baker added: "The company need to be clear we will continue to monitor their performance closely and take firmer action if necessary."

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