Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Rail fare rise - Where are our MPs?

On the day that Southeastern have announced an 8% rise due in January angry commuters from Medway raise questions about the government and our MPs for failing to keep their pledge on fighting fare increases.

All three MPs fought, as we the Lib Dems did, to stop unreasonable train fare rises. It is a key issue in the Medway towns and even beyond, that commuters pay a extra chunk of wages that their colleagues who live in the capitol don't. At the moment it stands at 24% of my wages, after tax, going before mortgage, bills, food etc...

Currently it breaks down like this;

Monthly season ticket is £319's (x12 = £3828 pa.) After an 8% rise it will be £344.52 pm & £4134.24 pa

My monthly wage is £1676.17 - tax/pension/NI = £1309.55

- £500 for my share of mortgage, food, nursery for my daughter, council tax.
- £ 200's for the bills I pay
-£ 319's rail fare
= £290's or £72.50 a week

After the rise it will be £265.03 = £66.25 a week.

I must be honest that I didn't vote for Rehman Chishti and predictably voted Libdem, but from memory we had a similar pledge, in fact one of our aims to get people into work and help the hard working. I saw a lot of angry tweets yesterday from people who blamed the Fibdems saying we had betrayed the electorate again. Also from the local Labour press officer accusing the South Eastern MPs of failure and effectively lying to their electorate pointing out that Mr Chishti ran his campaign against Paul Clarke MP on the basis that Gillingham commuters are made to suffer on a policy (RPI +3) that was a Labour poilicy and as one fo the under secretaries of transport- Within his jurisdiction to change. However a year into Mr Chishti's tenour he has not had the power to remove it.

BUT... is there any foundation in these claims?

On the surface of it -Yes after all the prices went up.

BUT... If you took a moment to look beneath the surface and ignore opportunistic gumpf...

Mark Reckless, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti have indeed been petitioning the Minister for Rail Theresa Villiers on our behalf since coming into power. As has Mike Hancock MP for Portsmouth (and a Lib Dem by the way- the only one whose constituents travel from the south to London) as have his Conservative colleagues in the Southern region such as the other MP for Portsmouth, Gosport, Woking and others. I watched the debate on BBC Parliament as they discussed Rolling stock, fares, renewal of franchise etc. The house was hardly packed and Ms Villiers was not moved by their words. In fact she used the same defence she did in her letter to me ( ). That to take the burden off the commuter it would have to be shifted to the tax payer and in today's economic climate and austerity - especially with more pressing things to spend money on.

The MPs - naught but backbenchers with no power other than to represent, have and continue to petition on our behalf. Yesterday Evening Tracey Crouch wrote;

The money Southeastern get from the commuters already should be enough for investment in stations, rolling stock etc but the main thing constituents ask me for is simply a better service. They want a service that gets them to their destination on time (preferably with a seat), stops at the stations it is scheduled to stop at, that the staff are polite, and that the toilets are clean. If five years of the highest increases in train fares in the country cannot deliver that then we have more than a problem of simply being an additional squeeze on the wallets of commuters.


I will also be making further representations to Government Ministers to try and ensure that the plus 3 formula is reduced in the South East before other parts of the country

(for the full post; )

Instead of criticising her and the others we should be supporting their efforts to abolish RPI+3, after all as Miss Crouch has says, we've paid our share of HS1. The Medway MP's could try and table something but in the grand scale of things who will vote for more tax payers money to go to subsidising the railways when it is needed else where?

Also most commuters don't mind about the prices going up if the service was to improve or went up with inflation, after all Southeastern have to cover their running costs.
BUT when our services are dirty, late, cancelled, overcrowded etc...

It is interesting that the question of what would a Labour MP or what more could our MPs do better has been left unanswered.

Forgetting my party allegiance and friendships with other party members and councillors - I'm a commuter, husband and father who needs to be able to afford to support my family, this is not the time for party political opportunism or fighting in which we, the middle is forgotten and lose out again. From my dealings with Rehman Chishti, he has passed on my humble communication to Ms Villiers ( and responded ( I have also written to Nick Clegg asking for representation not only as head of the party, deputy prime minister but also as champion of "Alarm clock Britain." ( Unfortunately I do not believe there is any light at the end of the tunnel for suffering commuters and I for one may be forced to give up my job and work closer to home.

1 comment:

  1. this whole 'removing the tax burden from the taxpayer is a lie'. The commuter pays more for rail journeys just to get into work. This itself is a tax. Southeastern are in receipt of revenue support that comes from tax money.

    So I have to pay to use the train, pay to subsidise the train, pay because I need to travel earlier in the day, pay the Government (2% of the increase goes to them) and pay even more should I want to get to work 10 mins earlier on HS1. If that's not delayed....