Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Justin Madders has attacked rail fare increases, claiming that local residents are being asked to pay “more for less” following a parliamentary debate on the issue.
New figures show that the cost of an annual season ticket between Ellesmere Port and Crewe has risen by 30% since 2010, to an eye watering £2,304. Nationally, regulated rail fares have gone up by 25% on average since David Cameron came to power, and the cost of some season tickets have risen by up to 38% since 2010.
Bus fares have also risen by 26% on average after Ministers cut support for bus services in the last Parliament, despite a falling number of available services. More than 2,400 Local Authority supported bus routes have been withdrawn or downgraded since 2010.
While the Government has claimed that higher fares would pay for improvements, there is growing evidence that the North is missing out, with passengers reliant on creaking infrastructure while grandiose schemes like the £15 billion London Crossrail scheme are prioritised. Justin points out that relatively modest improvements like electrifying the Wrexham-Bidston Line, which the residents of Neston rely on, would deliver significant benefits to the region.
Expenditure per head on transport capital in the North was £166 in 2013/14, which is half that in London (£332) and less than the average spend across UK regions (£189). Crossrail alone is earmarked to receive nine times more funding than all the rail projects from the North’s three regions combined. For the North to match London on transport infrastructure spend per head, £30 billion would have to be allocated to the region.
Commenting, Justin said:
“It is unacceptable that residents in Ellesmere Port & Neston are being asked to pay eye-watering rail fares, while receiving what is all too often a substandard service.
“There is no better example of the ‘Westminster Bubble’ effect than public transport. As London benefits from a good service, Ministers seem to think that there is no problem anywhere else – this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I am calling on the Government to examine their transport policies as soon as possible and to offer fair fares to passengers. If the Government is serious about getting people off our congested road and onto public transport, they need to make sure the services are affordable and reliable. Sadly things are going backwards on their watch.”