High Peak MP: rail users ‘fed up’ with price hikes and poor service

Ruth George
Ruth George

High Peak MP Ruth George has branded the current rail franchising model “a licence to print money and rip off commuters”.

During an opposition debate on rail franchising, Mrs George told the House of Commons that commuters were growing tired of rising ticket prices and worse services.

“Rail fares in this country are five times those in Europe as a proportion of wages,” she said during last week’s debate.

“No wonder UK commuters are fed up with rising prices and worse services and 76 per cent of people now support renationalisation of the railways.

“In my constituency, prices for off-peak fares have risen by 43 per cent since Northern Rail took over the franchise just 18 months ago, hitting commuters, students and people who simply need to get to work.

“When I asked Northern Rail why it had seen the need to raise prices by so much, it simply said “because we can”.

“This franchising model is a licence to print money and rip off commuters.

“My constituents tell me that they do not even want a seat on a train; all they want is to be able to stand up and not get pressure bruises, have their feet stood on or have to stand crammed with three other people in a stinking toilet space.”

Mrs George also criticised the government for “failing to understand the needs of commuters” and deliver investment where it is needed.

In response, newly-appointed transport minister Joseph Johnson MP said: “As we have repeatedly made clear, this government are making the largest investment in our railways since the Victorian era, with £48 billion over the five years from 2019.”

He added: “The privatisation of our railways has succeeded. Passenger journeys have more than doubled since 1995, and we have a claim to being the most improved railway in Europe, and the safest major railway, too.

“And all this is happening in what is not only one of the oldest railway networks in the world but one of the most intensively used. In fact, more people are travelling on our railways today than in any year since the 1920s, and on a smaller network.”

The Advertiser invited Northern to comment, but it has yet to respond.