Labour has announced plans to cut rail fares by 33% from January 2020 and make rail travel free for those aged 16 years old and under if it wins next week’s election.
The party also wants to “guarantee fair fares for part-time workers” by ensuring that workers who commute fewer than five 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.
Labour’s manifesto pledged to make rail fares simpler and more affordable but did not offer details.
The party claims that that the reduction in regulated fares would save the average commuter £1,097 a year, giving “relief to millions of rail commuters from years of excessive price rises”. It said the proposal would cost £1.5bn per year and would be covered by Vehicle Exercise Duty revenues.
Free rail travel for those age 16 years old and younger would meanwhile “encourage young people to use public transport, tackle generational inequality and make family holidays more affordable”.
Commenting on the plans, Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “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 Labour will scrap the bewildering and outdated fares and ticketing system that discriminates against part-time workers, discourages rail travel and excludes the young and low paid.”
Critics said that slashing regulated rail fares would disproportionally benefit relatively comfortable commuters in London and South East. Another asked: “Have they worked out how all our overcrowded trains are going to be able to accommodate all the extra passengers this policy would generate?”
Avanti West Coast poised to take over from Virgin
Avanti West Coast was last week unveiled as the brand for the new Intercity West Coast rail franchise, which begins on December 8.
The new owners, FirstGroup and Trenitalia, the Italian state railway company, explained that Avanti, which is Italian for “Forward!”, reflects a mission to deliver an innovative railway service that is “ready for today and fit for the future”. The Avanti West Coast logo is a bright orange triangle, symbolising the geographic extent of the 400-mile West Coast route.
Speaking at the launch of the new brand in Birmingham on Wednesday, Steve Montgomery, managing director of First Rail, said: “Today marks the start of a new era in high-speed rail services – one that will generate national prosperity and pride. Avanti West Coast enshrines the type of forward-thinking operation we intend to run, that’s ready for today and fit for the future.”
Avanti’s arrival will end Virgin’s 22-year tenure of the West Coast franchise.
London bus operators back bus franchising
Three London operators have backed the introduction of bus franchising in cities across England in a new report by the Centre for Cities. Abellio sponsored and Metroline and Tower Transit supported the report Delivering change – improving urban bus transport.
“With a self-declared ‘bus fanatic’ as prime minister and support across all major parties, mayors have the chance to take advantage of the Bus Services Act,” said author Simon Jeffrey.
He urged every ‘metro mayor’ to take up the powers in the Bus Services Act to franchise buses and concludes every city should be given the power to franchise bus services, not just elected combined authority mayors.
About the Author
This post was written by Robert Jack. Robert is Managing Editor and Publisher of Passenger Transport. He has worked as a journalist, editor and publisher in the passenger transport sector for 18 years. He has played a key role in many transport-related conferences and events.