A CUMBRIA campaigner has criticised a rail fares increase as a “money-go-round” for the private rail operators.

Union official Craig Johnson, the RMT’s Carlisle-based regional organiser, made in the comments after it was announced that fares in England and Wales were to rise by 2.6 per cent this month.

The price rise comes despite calls for freezes to help attract passengers back to the railways after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

It’s the first above-inflation increase for seven years.

Mr Johnson said: “We are opposed to the rail fair increase because we already have a massive public subsidy that goes to private firms, and this is coupled with a massive fall in passenger numbers because of the pandemic. It’s just unacceptable to expect any return to the railways.

“These private companies are making a mint, so it’s difficult to explain the money-go-round.
“The public is already subsidising the railways so why should passengers pay more.

“These companies are making a profit but the Government fails to nationalise.
“We depend on the railways to get from A to B.”

He adds that companies such as Arriva, which is owned by German firm Deutsche Bahn, are able to still make profits.

 His calls have been echoed by a number of other campaigners.

Emily Yates,of the Association of British Commuters, said: “Fares injustice and transport poverty are out of control in this country, and it’s all down to a government that refuses to take leadership or face difficult decisions on the issue. 

“Due to contractual chaos at the Department for Transport, there is now a rare opportunity to end the tug of war between taxpayers and shareholders and finally run the railway as a national asset; in the public interest and for the public good.

“This is more important than ever if we want to rebuild the economy after Covid.”

Ellie Harrison, of Bring Back British Rail, said: “This crisis is being used by the private rail companies as an opportunity to get what they want: higher profits and zero risk - meanwhile, passengers are forced to foot the bill. 

“If we allow this government to sign new contracts with these private companies, they’ll be locking us into this broken privatised system for decades to come.”