UTTOXETER’S parliamentary candidate has spoken out against an above inflation increases of rail fares for the New Year.
Jon Wheale has joined in supporting commuter groups and Action for Rail in questioning the efficacy of the increases after it was revealed rail users could face paying up to 4.1 per cent more for their journeys in 2014.
Campaigners have already been protesting at 50 train stations across the country against the rise saying it has gone up three times faster than wages in the last six years.
They claim between 2008 and next January rail fares will have jumped by 40 per cent, compared with a 15 per cent increase in average earnings.
Mr Wheale said: "Rail fares are an essential purchase for many people who work, are looking for work, or are retired in Burton, Uttoxeter and the villages.
“Not a real choice but essential in getting to work or visiting relatives in hospital.
"As wages fall, child care remains costly, and savings dwindle. This week's hike in rail fares is yet another reminder that the cost of living crisis is a reality.
"And the Government's answer appears to be to reward millionaires with tax cuts and to leave key economic decisions to the newly appointed governor of the Bank of England.
"Low and middle income families, and elders living off savings deserve a Government and an economy which works for them."
Derbyshire County Council, which covers Sudbury and Doveridge, has also joined the campaign against it saying the rise would make rail travel unaffordable.
Councillor Andy Botham, the authority’s deputy cabinet member for jobs, economy and transport, said: “Trains play an important role in getting people to work.
“But with many people struggling to make ends meet, we fear that another price hike on fares will mean rail travel is no longer an option for some people - putting more cars on the road.”
Campaigners have said the retail price index (RPI) inflation rose by 3.1 per cent in the year to July, down from 3.3 per cent last month, but regulated fares - such as season tickets - will rise by an extra one per cent when the new prices are announced from January.
The next price hike will be the sixth time in seven years that rail fares have outstripped wages, they say.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) added that rail privatisation was costing taxpayers £1.2bn a year despite "minimal" investment in trains and stations.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the MP covering Sudbury and Doveridge, said: "Nobody likes to see rail fares go up. I don't like to see it and passengers don't like to see it.
"We are massively investing in the railways, with £130m being spent at Nottingham, £800m at Reading and £600m at Birmingham.
"Running the railways is a very expensive business."