Members of my team went to chat with commuters at Lancaster train station on Wednesday morning. They weren’t surprised to find that every passenger they spoke to said they were fed up of the massive hike in ticket prices only to face delays, overcrowding, broken toilets and poor facilities. Since January under the Tories rail fares will have risen by 32 per cent – two times faster than wage growth – leaving British commuters paying some of the highest fares in Europe.
The cost of some rail season tickets will have risen by over 45 per cent since 2010 forcing some passengers to pay thousands more each year. Less than one in five railway stations are fully accessible, but the Government have cut funding to increase disabled accessibility by 42 per cent between 2015 and 2019.
So what would Labour do in Government? We’d reform our transport networks and deliver major projects that have stalled or been scrapped under the Tories.
We’d invest in transport infrastructure to boost economic growth and rebalance the economy, including building Crossrail for the North, Crossrail 2 and upgrading and expanding the rail network across the country.
Labour would put passengers first by taking rail franchises into public ownership as they expire and capping fares at the Consumer Price Index to prevent inflation-busting fare rises. We also strongly support the devolution of powers and funding to local transport authorities, so that local communities can determine their own priorities.
I also share concerns about plans for the HS2 service and whether the new trains will stop at Lancaster or whether passengers will have to travel to Preston to connect with it there. The success of the economy in Lancaster relies in a large part on having good, reliable train services to London. Having an HS2 stop at Lancaster will go some way in securing the prosperity of Lancaster for many years to come. I’ve met with the Chief Executive of Transport for the North, Barry White and impressed upon him the importance of the service being able to be accessed from Lancaster. I’ve also written to the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling for clarification. I’ll update you once I get a response.