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24 August 2016

Train fares to rise again - nationalise railways now!

Alex Gounelas

Sick of getting into work feeling like a two-day-old used face wipe? Well soon you will have to pay an extra 1.9% for the privilege. Regulated rail fares will rise again next year in line with this year's 'RPI' inflation figures.

On the Birmingham to London line a season ticket will cost an extra 190 on all available routes.

While Southern Rail boss David Brown swans around with notes from his 2.16 million wage packet spilling out of his pocket, the rest of us have to jangle our coins and learn to live in a stranger's armpit on a daily basis.

The UK has the highest transport prices in Europe. Fares have increased at twice the rate of average wages since 2010 - 25% versus 12%, according to the TUC. At the same time, shareholders have had a 21% increase in their dividends. Meanwhile there are less ticket offices, major station understaffing, and driver-only trains.

The problem of fares, of course, goes hand in hand with the housing crisis, as workers have to travel ever longer commutes. For part-time workers, mainly women, it's even worse: season tickets are only cheaper if you commute - and earn - five or more days a week.

Jeremy Corbyn calls for nationalisation, which he estimates would take 10% off fares. This is welcome. But Jeremy needs to go further.

His plan is to take over firms as their franchises run out. We say nationalise immediately - and pay compensation to shareholders only on the basis of proven need. Nationalise the buses at the same time, and invest in a fully staffed and integrated, cheap, green public transport network.