Rail Franchising Opposition Day Debate

On Wednesday 10 January 2018 an Opposition Day Debate was held on Rail Franchising.

The Opposition Labour Party tabled the following motion for debate:

“That this House believes that rail franchising is failing to provide adequate services for passengers or value for money for taxpayers; notes that regulated rail fares have risen by 32% since 2010 while planned investment has been cancelled; opposes the recent bail-out of Virgin Rail Group East Coast; and calls on the Government to run passenger services under public sector operation.”

I raised this matter during my speech for Business of the House on Thursday 11 January 2018. This January the average rise was 3.4%, the highest increase in five years. Since 2010 regulated rail fares have risen by 32% on average. This is three times faster than average median wage growth. The Government said higher fares would fund improved services, yet long-promised investment has been scrapped, including electrification on the Midland Mainline, Great Western and TransPennine routes.

The biggest percentage increase identified was between Tame Bridge Parkway near Walsall and Nuneaton, where the cost of an annual season ticket will have risen by 50% since 2010.

Some commuters are paying over £2,500 more to travel to work than in 2010, with the highest increase being on a Virgin Trains season ticket between Birmingham and London Euston, which will have risen by £2,539 since 2010 and now costs £10,567.

Passengers, our economy and our environment need affordable fares and reliable services, which the Government’s policy is failing to deliver. The Opposition would take our railway back into public ownership as franchises expire, using savings to cap fares, and would upgrade and expand the rail network.

The Government did not vote in favour of our Opposition day motion, or oppose it or even amend it. The motion was agreed to without a vote.