The cost of rail fares has increased at double the speed of wages in the last six years, new research by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) suggests.
Since 2010, fares have risen by 25% while average weekly earnings have only grown by 12%, the analysis by TUC and the Action for Rail Campaign shows.
Rail fare increase are determined by July’s Retail Price Index measure of inflation, which rose to 1.9% from the previous month’s rate of 1.6% and sets the cap for how much regulated rail fares will increase in England, Scotland and Wales by 2017.
Around half of rail fares are currently regulated, and although the cost of regulated fares went up by 1% in England, Scotland and Wales at the beginning of this year, the government have previously stated that regulated fares will rise by no more than RPI for the rest of this parliament.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Rail passengers are paying more and getting even less. Fares go up while trains remain overcrowded, stations are unstaffed, and rail companies cut the guards who ensure journeys run smoothly and safely.
“Enough is enough. It’s time for rail services to be publicly owned, saving money for passengers and taxpayers alike. Instead of increasing fares and cutting staff, we should be building an accessible, reliable train service that Britain can be proud of.”
The research also found that as fares for passengers rise, dividends paid to shareholders of private train companies have risen by 21% in the last year to £222 million.
A number of protests will be held outside various stations across the UK by irritated commuters along with rail unions and campaigners who are calling for public ownership of the railways.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary said: "Fares on the most popular routes have jumped by more than 245% since rail was privatised 20 years ago. Running a publicly owned railway would end this annual mugging of passengers and give us a network run in the interests of passengers and staff."
Unite national officer Tony Murphy says the public ownership of the railways would benefit all “rather than the publicly-subsidised shareholders of rail companies.”