The UK’s train scandal

I was dismayed at last week’s announcement that rail fares were again set for a hike in prices. In January commuters in England should expect to see a 3.2% increase in their rail fairs.

This brings the total percentage increase in rail fares since the Tories came to power in 2010 to 36%. Rising three times as much as wages have in the same period.

Being so close to the border, it is inevitable that this increase will significantly affect a large number of my constituents. This most recent increase is an insult to those who rely on public transport and represents a catastrophic mismanagement of the country’s railways.

Labour has revealed that the average commuter is paying £768 more for their season ticket compared to 2010 – with some commuters paying over £2,850 more.

This sort of rise in fares, coupled with the well documented drop in services, has led to a substantial fall in passenger numbers which is threatening the financial sustainability of the railway.

The failings of rail firms has led to an unprecedented amount of travel chaos. I believe the Government should introduce a tax on poorly performing rail companies to fund a fare freeze for passengers hit by disruption.

Blame lies with rail bosses, and of course Chris Grayling – who has overseen a dramatic decline in rail services since he was appointed Secretary of State for Transport in 2016.

Rail users in the UK pay a lot more compared to users in other European countries and in return they get a service that doesn’t even compare.

I am pleased that here in Wales the new operators of Wales and Borders rail services have promised to spend £800m on new trains and increase capacity by two thirds. KeolisAmey will replace Arriva in October and the venture promises to be a new age in Welsh rail services.

To completely address the longstanding issues with our railways then I believe they should be put back into public ownership, ran for passengers rather than private companies.

However in the meantime this level of investment in Wales is welcome and I will work hard to ensure these promises are kept. I also believe the UK Government should be working hard to secure similar levels of investment.