Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin defends 2.2pc rail fare increase

Guy Bentley
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The government has come out fighting to defend fare rises.

The government has defended today's 2.2 per cent increase in rail fares, arguing it's a vital step to maintaining world-class infrastructure.

The transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the rise was critical for new investment to maintain the network and ensure safety standards. He argued that if people wanted to use trains they would have to bear the cost.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

The fact is nobody likes to see prices increase at all. I wish they weren’t having to increase. But one of the reasons why they are having to increase is because we are investing huge amounts into our railway network.

He claimed the government would be investing up to £40bn in the railways over the next five years. In an unfortunate coincidence, shortly after the minister's interview rail passengers across the country were hit with delays.

Lines between London and Scotland and London and Crewe, as well as Virgin's Trent Valley line, all suffered disruption thanks to problems with overhead wires in Nuneaton.

The Prime Minister waded into the debate shoehorning in the Conservatives' election pitch on the economy:

It’s very important that we continue that investment because it’s an absolutely key part to our long-term economic plan, which is about staying on the road to a stronger economy which you can only have if you have the infrastructure that a stronger economy needs

After a Christmas season beset by travel chaos, the country's major rail companies agreed to sign a new code of practice to give customers the best deal when buying tickets.

Concerns had been raised after a Daily Telegraph investigation revealed the cost of tickets at self-service machines could be significantly higher than those at the ticket office.

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