Thursday, 6 September 2012

Commuters clobbered by Medway MPs

Train fares were the lead issue for yesterday's opposition day debate which proposed that the government introduced a cap of 1% on fare rises for SouthEastern trains.

Two of our MPs abstained and one was absent for this crucial debate. 

The debate gave the opportunity to cut fares for Kent commuters to a more affordable level given the economic conditions

This policy of a reduced cap was one which Conservative MPs, like those in Kent, have previously campaigned on (see the Kent Conservative website) and where we have had cross-party consensus in Gun Wharf to cut the fares; recently documented in the letter sent by Cllr Phil Filmer to the government.


“Many people in Medway rely on trains to commute to work outside of Medway and fare increases could drastically impact on their ability to commute to their jobs.

“Medway Conservatives appreciate that investment in services is necessary but for hard squeezed commuters to have to dig deep in their pockets in these tough times is not the answer. I am calling on Southeastern Trains to keep fare increases to an absolute minimum.”

It is sad that Medway Tory MPs ignored local Councillors, ignored local residents and ignored South Eastern commuters and voted to keep RPI +3%.

They claimed it was opportunism yet the proposal was similar to that two of our MPs signed as an EDM in 2010; it was a costed and reasoned proposal to reduce the cap to +1% across the entire network.

It is also one which the Conservative government introduced temporarily last year;
  • Inflation figures confirm that current RPI figure (Retail Price Index) is currently 3.2%. This means regulated rail fares are set to increase on average by 6.2%, with train companies allowed to add another 5% on top.
  • Labour believes that train companies should not be allowed to increase fares by more than one per cent above inflation across their routes. Hard-working commuters are already being hit by other cost of living increases in their everyday lives while their salaries remain the same.
  • The annual season ticket from Medway to London Stations is £3,524 and for HS1 £4,412 and from Aylesford/Snodland the annual season ticket is £3,676
It is simply unsustainable for commuters in Chatham, Aylesford or Snodland to be potentially paying £4,000 in January 2013. It is pricing people off rail and threatening family budgets at a moment when the Tory economic plan has led to zero growth in the economy.

Our MPs have let down commuters across Kent by voting to retain the +3% RPI rail fare increase which is a direct cotnradiction to the stated position of local Council groups and Medway residents

The vote last night reinforced that Fare isnt fair under the Tories; they have sold out on their committments to fare payers. They have the wrong platform and should change track.

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