12 August 2014
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT today slammed the Government and Northern Rail for colluding to axe off-peak fares in the name of private profit from next month in what the union describes as “a kick in the teeth for the travelling public and a taste of what’s to come under the new Northern and Trans-Pennine Express franchises which are currently out to public consultation.”
Under the new plans, which have only just been confirmed to unions and staff, from the 8th September off-peak tickets can no longer be used during key times on weekday evenings.
The abolition of the off-peak evening fares will apply to the following areas:
• Travel South Yorkshire
• Transport for Greater Manchester
• Metro West Yorkshire
• Routes radiating out of the above areas
• The Hexham-Newcastle line
RMT says that the jacking up of fares fits with the plans for the future of Northern and Trans-Pennine Express which are currently out to consultation. A point confirmed in black and white in the Northern Rail circular on the fare hike:
“The changes are being made after the Department of Transport asked Northern to look at several options to generate additional revenue as part of its new franchise agreement.”
The public consultation on the future of the franchises, which is due to end on the 18th of August, has sparked off a massive and widespread campaign of opposition by RMT which has engaged tens of thousands of people across the area affected compared to an almost non-existent “listening” exercise conducted by the DfT and their associates at the little-known “Rail North.” RMT has so far organised close to 50 public events during the consultation compared to a pitiful 5 by the DfT and Rail North, including not a single event in Cumbria, one of the areas hardest hit by the plans.
The consultation document plans include;
• Driver Only Operation to be introduced on the Northern franchise
• Driver Only Operation to be left at the discretion of the franchisee on the TPE
• Reducing ticket office opening times
• Cuts to “back room and support functions” staff
• Increasing fares – a move already put in place through todays shock announcement.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The axing of off-peak fares is a savage kick in the teeth for people already struggling with the burden of low pay and austerity and the fact that it has been cooked up by the Department for Transport in collusion with the privatisation pirates from Northern Rail is a warning of what’s to come.
“Let’s not forget that the core of the Government’s future plans for Northern and TPE is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate. That attack on the fare-paying public has already begun.
“RMT is stepping up the fight to both inform the public and fight the savage cuts being lined up for these Northern rail franchises. We have been getting fantastic support, thousands of post cards have been distributed and the political and public pressure is growing across the region as the consultation draws to a close.”