In Brief

UK rail sees biggest price hike in five years

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling criticised for flying to Qatar during day of rail protests

Long-suffering commuters today faced the biggest rail fare increase in five years, leading to questions about why service is so poor and why British travellers must pay substantially more than their European peers. 

It is “like the Great Train Robbery all over again”, the Daily Mirror says. The Sun calls it a “train wreck”, while The Independent labels the Britain rail fare system a “shambles”.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of dodging his responsibilities after Grayling flew to Qatar as a day of protests got under way in the UK. Demonstrations were planned at 40 stations across the country in response to the fare increases, reports the BBC

About a third of UK trains failed to reach their destination on time over the past 12 months, The Times notes. Yet despite the tardy service, average rail ticket prices have risen by 3.4% across the UK rail network.

Routes facing a £100-plus rise for an annual pass include Liverpool to Manchester (up £108 to £3,152), Maidenhead to London (up £104 to £3,092) and Elgin to Inverness (up £100 to £2,904). 

Regular travellers now spend 13% of their annual salary, on average, commuting to work by train in Britain. “This compares with between 2.5% and 5% of workers’ salaries in countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain,” The Times adds.

The Independent says the average cost of a ticket has increased by 32% since the Conservatives took power in 2010, “far outstripping mostly low inflation over the same period”. 

The Department for Transport says the fare increases will help improve the network.

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