Reports and Campaigns
Reports and campaigns:
Rail fares unfair
THE PRIVATISED firms in the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) are raising rail fares throughout Britain again - this time by up to 15% from 2 January. ATOC says regulated fares, including season and saver tickets, will increase 4.8% - 0.6% above the RPI measure of inflation.
But the government's policy is to make rail users pay more of the privatised system's costs. Passengers' annual contribution to railway services are to nearly double from £5 billion to £9 billion by 2014. Fare rises on some routes are way above the average increase.
Weekly season tickets from Hayes in suburban south London will cost £28.50 in 2008, instead of the present £24.80. This Southeastern train service is run by Govia, a joint venture company between the Go Ahead group and Keolis.
Go Ahead's profits last year were £97.8 million and it increased its dividend payments by 17% including paying £2.2 million to JP Morgan bank. Keolis is partly owned by Deutsche Bank, whose earnings surged by 70% in 2006.
Govia received a £1.1 billion state subsidy this year after taking over a West Midlands rail franchise. But this multinational pleads poverty and has been allowed to put passengers' fares up by inflation plus 3% on its London to Northampton line and up to 14.5% in Southeastern services.
ATOC blames fare increases on reduced subsidies to some train operators. Yet these franchises are very profitable.
The nine TOCs and rolling stock companies' profits rose from £584 million in 2002 to £894 million in 2006 though they only paid £71 million tax.
"The private franchises are interested only in lining their shareholders' pockets,'' Bob Crow, RMT rail union general secretary, commented. "We need a public railway run in the interests of the public. The time has come to bring the franchises back into the public sector in a single, coherent public body.''