THE transport union branch covering Uttoxeter has warned passengers they could face huge ticket price hikes – despite measures announced by the Chancellor during his Autumn statement.
George Osbourne has capped rises in regulated fares – such as season tickets and peak time fares – at the rate of inflation.
However, the Burton branch of the RMT union has warned that Network Rail, which runs Uttoxeter’s Crewe to Derby line, still has the freedom to hike prices by 5.1 per cent.
That figure is twice the rate of inflation and three times the rate at which commuters’ wages are rising.
Paul Walker, chairman of the Burton RMT branch, is now calling for train services to be re-nationalised – a move which he claims would cut prices by 17 per cent.
He said: “Commuters should not be fooled by the government’s recent announcements regarding train fares.
“When passengers return to work after the Christmas break, there will still be fare rises – even to their season tickets – and other fares will go up three times faster than wages.
“Working people are currently facing pay cuts and pay freezes and a further increase in rail fares is not welcome.
“Re-nationalisation is the easiest way to bring rail fares down. A publicly-owned railway will lead to a 17 per cent cut in rail fares, which would allow money to be put back into the service and not leaked out of the system and into the hands of private shareholders.
“On top of the above-inflation fare rises, the rail industry is going to be hit by a string of cutbacks that pose serious risks to the safety of passengers and will lead to the loss of up to 20,000 rail jobs across the network.”
Commuters now have to pay £8 for a one-way ticket from Uttoxeter to Derby and £7.10 for a single to Stoke-on-Trent.
Season tickets from Uttoxeter to Derby or Stoke-on-Trent are priced at £1,424.
Mr Walker is calling for the UK to fall in line with many European countries with a nationalised service.
He said: “British passengers are continuing pay much higher fares than passengers on nationalised railway’s in Europe.
“Rail passengers in this country deserve a railway that is to the same standard of those in Europe and the only way this can happen is through re-nationalising the system and putting passengers and taxpayers first.”
The Advertiser reported last year how Network Rail erected a safety bridge at Uttoxeter Railway Station.
The £1.4 million structure was described as a ‘monstrosity’ by those living in its shadow.
A Network Rail spokesman said it was designed to ‘separate passengers and rail traffic’.