National politics

Train fares rose 47% in last 9 years of Labour

Today Labour is doing its annual train fares campaign.

There are a couple of things to say. First their number is wrong. Second it was much worse under Labour.

The 36% number comes from the union GMB. Their calculation is wrong. It is a theoreitcal calculation of what all rail fares would be if all train fares rose by the regulated fares cap. Of course most regulated fares go up by the regulated fares cap but unregulated fares do not and the actual increase for each rail user is different.

The rail regulator, the Office for Rail and Road, tries to capture this by weighting price rises by what rail companies actually sell. The all tickets line at the bottom of ORR’s table 1.81 “Index showing average change in price of rail fares by regulated and unregulated tickets” shows the average change in price of all rail fares as sold, see here.

Their all tickets index stood at 120.1 in 2001. Nine years later in 2010 it stood at 176.5, a 47.0% rise in 9 years. So under the last 9 years of New Labour fares rose by 47.0%. This was driven by their setting the regulated fares cap at RPI+1 from 2004 to 2010.

The ORR all tickets index stood at 227.8 last year. If you inflate that by a theoretical 3.1% (as GMB has done every year for 9 years) you get 33.1% not GMB’s 36%. Under recent Conservative led governments the regulated fares cap rose by RPI+1 for three years 2011-2013 as they had done under Labour. The last six rises have been set at RPI only so a cumulative 6.15% above RPI has been taken off fares compared to New Labour’s track record.

Fares should rise. CPI would be a much fairer yardstick. This will take some hard talking to the rail unions whose large pay increases in recent years have kept pushing up rail costs. Labour pretends it could keep fares low, look after its union chums and not spend £ billions extra subsidising the railways. Who do they think they are kidding?

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