Rail Franchising

Part of NHS Winter Crisis – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling The Secretary of State for Transport 4:44 pm, 10th January 2018

I will make some progress, then take a few interventions.

I do not like to see train fares rise. I particularly did not like, as a rail user of some 35 years, to see fares rise by nearly 20% in real terms during Labour’s years in office. I did not like, in those years, to see fares rise in cash terms by an average of 67%, so I am relieved that we have been able to limit the real increase in train fares to just 2% in real terms since 2010, even while we invest billions in upgrading the network. That increase is still more than I would wish, but it is much, much less than the increases under Labour and much less—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Middlesbrough was simply unwilling to answer the question that my hon. Friend Huw Merriman correctly asked. Under Labour, fares rose much faster than they have under this Government.

That does not make it any easier for those who faced increases last week. I had hoped to be able to bring down the rate of increase from the higher retail prices index rate to the lower consumer prices index this year. That remains my goal, but there is a problem. The industry is locked into RPI and has been for years. The biggest barriers to change are the unions whose members’ pay amounts to almost a third of the costs of the industry. Currently their pay rises in line with or above RPI inflation every single year.