Rail passengers have admitted to being negatively affected by rising fare prices in the UK, according to new research by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT).
The trade union has said it will protest higher fares on 14 August at cities across the UK, including Cardiff, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester.
In the RMT’s survey of 1,000 rail passengers, seven out of ten confessed they have been adversely affected due to rising rail fares. In total, 60% believe rail fares are terrible value for money and 73% think train companies are focused more on making a profit than providing a good service.
Some consequences affecting rail users include increased financial pressure, being unable to visit their family and friends, looking for alternative ways of transport, and even being forced to cut down on other expenses.
Despite escalating fares, the rail companies continue to suffer from issues such as lack of staff “to extract as much profit as possible,” the report said.
The RMT has announced that campaigners and activists will demonstrate outside more than 30 stations in the country to protest against rising rail fares. The union also aims to call on the new Transport Secretary to prioritise customer experience and railway infrastructure rather than profits, as well as demand a publicly owned railway.
Commenting on the increasing fares RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is a national disgrace that the majority of UK rail passengers say that rising rail fares have forced them to make cut backs elsewhere. Our railways should be run as an affordable and accessible public service and not for private profit.
“Keith Williams has said he will prioritise passengers in his rail review, but unless he recommends renationalisation, it will be clear he is merely giving lip service to the idea of improving our railways for the benefit of passengers.
“Rail passengers have had enough of being ripped off by the private rail companies’ profiteering. They deserve better,” said Cash.
Rail fares increased by 3.1% this January, and it is rumoured that a further increase by 2.7% is due to be announced on 14 August, which would add more than £100 to the season tickets of hundreds of thousands of commuters.
Cash believes nationalising the railways is the solution to improve the railway industry. “With the colossal sums bled out of our railways by private companies, including the £1.2bn ripped-off by the rolling stock outfits as exposed by RMT, it is crystal clear that a return to public ownership would free up the funds needed to both hold down fares and invest in services,” he said.
“The private rail racket has left Britain’s passengers paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on clapped out and unreliable services. It is time for it to end.”