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Railway chaplain says people are 'understandably' annoyed by rail fare increase

Tue 02 Jan 2018
By Eno Adeogun

A railway chaplain has sympathised with rail passengers who traveled on the first working day of 2018 and were hit with the largest fare rise in five years.

Average ticket prices across Britain went up by 3.4 per cent on Tuesday.

Liam Johnston, Executive Director and senior chaplain to British Transport Police told Premier people are "understandably" annoyed.

He said: "So many people over the last 10 years have seen zero or very little of an increase in their salaries in real-terms, let alone in actual monetary value.

"So to have this increase really hits people where it hurts and there's a lot of people out there who are struggling day-to-day to make ends meet because the finances just don't stretch to the end of the month."

A number of season tickets have gone up by more than £100, including in Theresa May's constituency of Maidenhead, where an annual pass to London rose by £104 to £3,092.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railways since the Victorian times to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better, more comfortable trains with extra seats.

"This includes the first trains running though London on the Crossrail project, an entirely new Thameslink rail service and continuing work on the transformative Great North Rail Project.

"We keep fare prices under constant review and the price rises for this year are capped in line with inflation, with 97p out of every £1 paid going back into the railway."

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union handed out chocolates to "sweeten the bitter pill" of the price increase.

Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

 

Protests were held outside around 40 stations to mark the biggest increase since 2013.

Mr Johnston told Premier he wasn't surprised by people's anger.

He explained: "Rail fares are always a very emotive subject where people do have their tensions and their frustrations raised every time there is a rail fair increase.

"The reality unfortunately is… the focus of that anger and annoyance is often focused at the wrong place and on the wrong individuals.

He said people direct their frustration "onto rail staff rather than… the government or senior directors.

He urged for people to pray for railway staff "simply doing their jobs".

He added: "We're called to love our neighbour and when you're on the platform with a member of staff who may be dispatching a train or there to help customers… I would say it's about engaging with that individual… and being kind to them."

Listen to Liam Johnston speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun:


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