Campaign for Better Transport has welcomed the Government’s commitment to a full fares review as recommended in Sir Roy McNulty’s Rail Value for Money Study published yesterday.
However the group warned that the review must take account of the full range of passenger’s needs, not simply find ways to price people off peak-time trains.
With the overall drive of the report geared towards cutting the Government’s subsidy and granting more freedom and flexibility to operators, the charity is warning passengers’ needs could be sidelined.
Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said:
“We’re pleased that the Government is accepting that there should be a review of fares, but with massively higher fare rises already planned for the next three years, passengers want action now, rather than having to wait years for any savings to be passed on to them.
“Any review of fares must address what passengers want from the railway, not see passengers as a problem to be solved by pricing people off the railway or introducing another range of new and potentially more complex fares”.
The charity’s other key concerns include targeting regional railways for reduced service levels, more revenue generation from bigger station car parks and potential staffing cuts.
Dr Woodsworth continued: “We are concerned that talk of increased staffing efficiency will, in practice, turn into cuts in front line staff. Passengers want to have a staff presence on stations and on trains, both to aid security and to access the full range of tickets.”
The charity did, however welcome proposals for smart season tickets that would benefit part-time workers and greater local control of the railways. The charity also expressed concern that the wider economic and environmental benefits of the railways were being missed.
Dr Woodsworth added: “To tackle climate change and support the green growth the Government wants to see, we will need to increase the use of the railways for passengers and freight. This review mentions these wider benefits but many of its specific proposals could make the railways less rather than more attractive as an alternative to cars and lorries.
“The Government needs to make these benefits central to its response to the review, using the railways as the basis for a door-to-door public transport network that can wean us off dependence on oil.”