The union TSSA has called for a new financial settlement for rail as worries of hiking annual fares mount.
TSSA’s general secretary Manuel Cortes said commuters have been “clobbered by above inflation fare rises,” while private rail operators “laughed all the way to the bank.”
“We need our railways to be fully in public hands and working for all of us as they do elsewhere in Europe,” he explained.
Fares could go as high as 12 per cent from next year as the July retail price index (RPI) is normally used to calculate the increase in rail fares for the coming year.
The RPI now stands at 11.8 per cent.
“In the face of the escalating Tory cost of living crisis, ministers must think again and end the profit motive,” the union leader said.
Cortes also called on Tory leadership contestants Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to pledge an end to “profiteering.”
“Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister should make a commitment on day one to remove profit from the running of our railways so we can have a fair ticketing regime and also put in place a new financial settlement for our railways which encourages people to move from road to rail,” he said.
“This is vital when so many people who want to use our rail network are priced off, particularly at a time when millions are facing real economic hardship.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson told City A.M.: “We do not comment on speculation, and no decision has been made on national rail fares.”
Meanwhile Andy Bagnall, chief executive of newly formed trade body Rail Partners, said that attracting people back to railways would push costs down.
“The private sector has a proven track record of chasing revenue, increasing passenger numbers and containing cost – delivering benefits to both taxpayers and customers,” he added.
Cortes’s remarks come on the heels of a national rail dispute, which is involving members of major UK unions working across the wider rail network.
Members of TSSA working as station and operational staff at seven railway companies will walk out on 18 and 20 August, joined by 40,000 rail workers in the union RMT.
Union executives on Friday withdrew a ballot called a day earlier after it claimed that Network Rail had changed the deal.
A company spokesperson said there had been a misunderstanding and that it was hoping the TSSA would “restart the process to give their members a voice and a choice in the days ahead.”