THE situation goes from bad to worse for long-suffering rail users with confirmation that fares will again increase faster than most people’s wages.

This should be seen in the context of declining performance levels and the unravelling of First MTR’s promises made at the start of the South Western Railway franchise last year.

UK rail users already pay some of the highest fares in the world, yet the rate of increase shows no signs of abating and the cost of travelling by rail vs road increases further.

In contrast, car drivers are paying lower fuel prices than in 2011 and will continue to do so while the government prioritises polluting and inefficient road transport over trains, buses and trams.

We are calling on the Transport Secretary to cancel the fare rises planned for next January.

If the UK is to attract more inward investment post Brexit, and meet our environmental responsibilities, then we need to create an affordable, fully integrated rail and bus network.

Pricing people off our railways and penalising those who have no alternative can no longer be viewed as tolerable position by politicians. Passengers can see through the spin; increased investment has not led to improvements because no one has tackled the inefficiencies of our rail network.

Our once proud, but now ageing, Victorian system looks more and more obsolete. We need government capital spending to bring the network up to date while competition is required on all the main routes to drive up standards and lower fares. Long-term this is a better strategy that will deliver sustainable growth rather than the patch-and-mend approach of the current government.

Our railways are no longer then envy of the world; it's time that politicians wake up to this fact.

A new approach is needed.

Jeremy Varns

Campaign coordinator, SWR Watch