Angry commuters are protesting the rail fare increases, which have once again risen higher than the top-paying savings rates.
Ticket prices went up by an average of 3.1 per cent at the start of this year – 0.8 per cent higher than the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, according to the most recently-available statistics from the Bank of England, the average instant-access savings rate was just 0.2 per cent last year.
This means that rail commuters who had been saving for an annual ticket will now be out of pocket by an extra 2.9 per cent, on average.
As a result, campaigners staged a series of demonstrations at more than two dozen railway stations across the country, stating that the price increase was unjustifiably high, and pointing out that train punctuality is at a 13-year low.
The above-inflation increase in fares is just the latest financial squeeze to hit UK consumers, following years of languishing interest rates, stagnating wage growth, and rising household bills.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has blamed trade unions for the rail fare rises, telling the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “the reality is the fare increases are higher than they should be because the unions demand – with threats of national rail strikes if they don’t get them – higher pay rises than anybody else.”
However, union bosses have hit back, claiming that the rail fare increases were caused by the privatisation of the railways.