AS the hike in train fares hit commuters in Swindon yesterday, the 20 per cent increase in four years was brought under the spotlight by Coun Mark Dempsey.
Coun Dempsey (Lab, Walcot & Park North) visited the train station during both the morning and evening rush hours, with supporters from the Labour party, to remind passengers of the astro- nomical rise they have experienced since 2010.
The country has been faced with an average increase of 2.8 per cent this year, with the average increase on First Great Western lines, including Swindon, standing at 3.1 per cent.
“We are reminding people that rail fares have increased by 20 per cent since 2010,” said Coun Dempsey.
“It shows another example of the cost of living crisis under the Conservatives.
“Lots of people that we spoke to were concerned about the fares going up.
“Labour want to bring in a tougher cap on rail fares. The most important thing is a cap on prices to halt this rise which has been non-stop since 2010.”
Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, said: “You should judge people on their actions. The previous government failed to put any sort of cap on prices.
“It is encouraging the current government has reduced the increases. At one stage it was, RPI (Retail Price Index) plus three per cent, but the Conservative government has brought that down, year on year, to RPI plus one per cent.
“What’s key is the value for money passengers are being offered. For example, the number of standard class carriages on the train. The investment being put into rail infrastructure will be used to fund the electrification of hundreds of miles of track, instead of the nine miles, electrified under the last government. This will benefit everybody with higher volume of trains and more capacity.”
Right Move, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and National Rail also released figures yesterday which highlighted the amount of money being saved by those who choose to commute rather than live in London.
Based on average property prices in Swindon and London, plus the annual mortgage saving and cost of a season ticket, those living in Swindon are saving £5,713 per year.
This may prove a far larger saving than for those living in Oxford, who make a loss of £2,132, or Reading, who save £5,428, but those living in Southampton and Rugby, with similar house prices to Swindon, are making a greater saving with far cheaper train tickets.
Commuters from Rugby, Warwickshire, save £7,679 per year, with journey times under an hour, whereas Southampton residents will pocket an extra £8,600 per year, with a season ticket almost half the cost of travel from Swindon.