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Rail fare rise 'kick in the teeth'
Bernard Harrison, 80, joins the Action for Rail campaign group protest at Kings Cross Station in central London
Rail users face another "massive" increase of around 4.1% in fares in the new year after new inflation figures signalled more "misery" for passengers.
RPI inflation rose by 3.1% in the year to July, down from 3.3% last month, but regulated fares are set to rise by an extra 1% when the new prices are announced from January.
Unions and campaigners staged a series of protests at stations across the country to highlight the increase, which will be well above average rises in earnings.
Rail Maritime and Transport union leader Bob Crow said: "This latest inflation-busting hike in fares is a kick in the teeth for the British people who are condemned for another year to pay the highest prices in Europe to travel on clapped-out, overcrowded and unreliable trains while the private operators are laughing all the way to the bank."
Next January's rise will be the sixth time in seven years that rail fares have outstripped wages, said campaigners.
Between 2008 and next January rail fares will have jumped by 40%, compared with a 15% increase in average earnings, it is claimed.
The TUC and the Action for Rail campaign group staged a series of demonstrations at almost 50 stations, warning that some season tickets could rise by 9%, against forecasts of a 2.4% increase in average earnings next year.
Campaign for Better Transport published research showing that rail fares are increasing nearly twice as fast as incomes, outstripping increases in wages by nearly 14% since 2007. Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "Getting to work is now the biggest single monthly outgoing for many commuters - more than food, more than housing. One of the surest ways of stamping on any green shoots of recovery is to price people off the trains and out of the jobs market. For the sake of the economy, we should end above-inflation fare increases now and start planning for fare reductions."
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said: "Since 2004, it has been Government policy to allow regulated fares to rise above inflation in order to support investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.
"This is helping to drive passenger satisfaction to near-record levels while seeking to reduce taxpayers' contribution towards the cost of running the railways. In order to help limit future fare rises, the rail industry is working with the Government to find ways of providing services even more efficiently, building on the progress that has already been made."