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Rail fare increases expected as trade unions protest

Rail fare increases expected as trade unions protest

Paddington Station London Rail fare increases have outstripped inflation for a decade

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Commuters will find out later how much rail fares are to go up next year when inflation figures are released.

In England, analysts expect an above-inflation 4.3% rise in January.

Trade unions have organised protests at stations around the country and called for the rail network to be returned to public ownership.

In Scotland, prices are capped at the rate of inflation, while there is no rise planned in Northern Ireland and the Welsh government has yet to decide.

Regulated fares, which include season tickets, are due to go up by inflation - as measured by the retail prices index for July - plus 1%.

Analysts expect an RPI of 3.3%.

'Evidence before ideology'

The TUC's Action for Rail campaign will see demonstrations at almost 50 stations - including London Kings Cross, Birmingham New Street and Manchester Piccadilly - to protest against the increase.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the government should "put evidence before ideology" and look at renationalising the railways.

"Wage-busting fare rises are not even going on much needed service improvements", she said.

"Instead, passenger and public subsidies are lining the pockets of the shareholders of private rail companies."

The TUC added that if fares rise as expected, it would equate to a 40% hike since 2008.

'Salary hasn't changed'

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the rises were paying to upgrade the network.

"Someone has to pay for that investment and over many years government policy has been to allow regulated fares like season tickets to go up above the rate of inflation," he told BBC Breakfast.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the government was investing record amounts in the railways and "will be announcing further measures to ensure greater fairness on fares for passengers later this year".

But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "Inflation-busting increases in rail fares are adding to the cost of living crisis facing households."

One commuter, Jennifer Burke, told the BBC she paid more than £5,500 for a season ticket to travel between her home in Bedford and work in London.

"You're sitting with your salary which hasn't changed for a couple of years now... Your train journey goes up and sometimes the quality's just getting less and less," she said.

Would a rise in fares put you off commuting by rail? Do fare increases lead to better services for passengers? Please share your views and experiences of rail travel using the form below.

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