South Cambs MP to meet with Rail Minister over fares increase

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen.

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen. - Credit: Archant

The MP for South Cambridgeshire will meet the new Rail Minister today to discuss last week’s annoucement that rail fares are set to increase by 3.1 per cent in January.

Mrs Allen, who had been championing a ‘fare freeze’ on behalf of constituents, said she was “disappointed and angry” to hear the rail industry had chosen to implement a fare increase while day-to-day reliability was still recovering from the disastrous summer of delays and cancellations on the Great Northern line.

The Conservative MP has repeatedly made requests to ministers for a fare freeze to demonstrate that passengers and rail user groups were being listened to.

This culminated in her co-ordinating a ‘fares freeze’ letter from her and other local MPs to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, at the end of August.

The then Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, responded by saying he recognised people’s concerns and was working with the industry and unions to try to move the cost base rate of inflation to the lower Consumer Price Index instead of the higher Retail Price Index.

Current Rail Minister, Andrew Jones wrote to parliamentary colleagues today confirming that “the cost base of the industry is a key driver of fares” and that “unfortunately, Unions had refused to look at reforming the industry inflation index.”

Mrs Allen said: “After one of the worst summers on record for our rail industry, I told the government we could not ask commuters to pay more for less.

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“I am disappointed and angry that the industry as a whole has failed to respond to requests to consider a fare freeze or a lower rate of inflation.

“I believe it is now incumbent upon the government to tackle this systemic problem and force the industry to swallow the cost pressures caused by implementing one of these two measures.

“We must start listening to passengers who deserve value for money from a reliable, punctual service. After a summer of dreadful service, this latest news is unacceptable and I shall be telling the minister as much when I meet him later today.”