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Rail season tickets £694 more per year than when Tories won power, says Labour

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said fares had risen three times faster than wages.

Commuters are paying almost £700 more a year for season tickets than when the Tories came to power, Labour claimed as the latest price hikes took effect.

The average traveller will be paying £2,888 for their season ticket, £694 a year more than in 2010, according to Labour’s analysis.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said fares had risen three times faster than wages during the period.

Labour compared costs in cash terms on over 180 routes between when the Conservatives came to power and the new prices.

The highest increase was on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston which will have risen by £2,539 since 2010 and now costs £10,567, the analysis showed.

The biggest percentage increase identified was between Tame Bridge Parkway and Nuneaton, where the cost of an annual season ticket will have risen by 50% since 2010 – from £1,948 to £2,916.

In Theresa May’s own constituency, the cost of an annual season ticket from Maidenhead to London Paddington has risen by £732 since 2010, a 31% increase from £2,360 to £3,092.

Mr McDonald said: “The Tories’ failure on our railways means passengers have faced truly staggering fare rises of over £2,500 since 2010, with fares having increased three times as much as wages.

“Commuters have repeatedly been told that higher fares are necessary to fund investment, but promised investment has been cancelled and essential works have been delayed by years.

“Decisions taken by government ministers are making rail travel unaffordable for the many in favour of huge profits for the few.

“The truth is that our fragmented, privatised railway drives up costs and leaves passengers paying more for less.

“The railways need serious reform that could be achieved if the Tories matched Labour’s manifesto policy to extend public ownership to passenger services, but instead ministers are persisting with a failed model of privatisation that is punishing passengers.”

Mr McDonald said the franchise system had “completely and utterly failed”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have a fractured, expensive and complex system, we are wasting money in the franchising system itself, it duplicates costs… This is a nonsense, this is an absolute racket and having risen at three times the rate of earnings, I think people have got to the end of their tether and quite understandably so.”

Labour he said would make sure it had a “good industrial relations policy with our trade union partners”.

He said: “I think instead of being at war with the people who work in the rail industry, we should be in partnership with them to ensure that we deliver the best possible service and they want to commit to that, but what’s happening here is ideologically we’ve got a Government who prefers to have battles and wars, rather than sit round a negotiating table and resolve these very, very real issues.”

He added: “If British Rail had had half the investment that’s gone in under privatisation we’d have had a gold standard railway.”

A tour of the fare protests by Mr McDonald was halted when his train broke down.

He was en route to Leeds from Stevenage when the Virgin Trains East Coast train suffered a power failure in Grantham.

The incident caused major disruption to journeys between Peterborough and Grantham, with passengers warned that services could be delayed by up to one-and-a-half hours.

Mr McDonald said: “My day of campaigning for a publicly-owned railway has been interrupted today because of the breakdown of this Virgin Train as I head to Leeds.

“It’s run out of power. A little bit like the Tories.”

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