Train tickets 3.5% price hike to spark protests outside stations across country

Railway stations will be hit by protests after an expected fares rise of 3.5% is announced today.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to impose a freeze amid mounting anger at rip-off hikes.

Steve Chambers, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Passengers have endured enough from the failures of the rail network this year. Being asked to pay more again next year will be a bitter pill to swallow.”

Members of the RMT union will protest today at stations in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Leeds.

The TUC said fares have risen 42% in 10 years, while nominal weekly earnings are only up 18%. Many long-distance commuters will see their annual costs increase by more than £150 next year.

The Department for Transport uses the July Retail Prices Index measure of inflation to set the cap on the annual rise in regulated train fares, effective in January.

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Economists predict this will be around 3.5% but the exact figure will be released at 9.30am today.

RMT chief Mick Cash said: “Even if fares were pegged at the more modest CPI, these increases would still massively outstrip wages. Meanwhile the rail companies, the majority of whom are foreign state-owned, are using the British transport system as a cash cow to hold down their own domestic fares.”

The Department for Transport said: “Any increase is unwelcome but it is not fair to ask people who do not use trains to pay more for those who do.”

Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has told rail unions he wants to move the industry away from basing increases on RPI inflation – and also use CPI for pay rises.

Mr Cash said: “This is a basketcase Government and a lame duck Transport Secretary continuing its all out war on staff and passengers alike.”

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