TRAIN COMPANIES are to be allowed to hike up their fares despite one of the worst years ever for delays. The government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has said London and south east England operators, which run 70 percent of services, will be able to raise fares by 1 percent more than inflation.
South West Trains is the worst performing company but will still get away with the fares hike. It is also the company that was recently found guilty of unfairly dismissing two RMT union activists. The head of the SRA, Richard Bowker, is a former director of Richard Branson's Virgin Trains.
Bowker this week announced a complicated financing plan designed to bring in private companies as an alternative to direct public investment. He is to offer construction consortia a guaranteed slice of revenue from ticket sales over a 20 to 30 year period in return for building new rail schemes. Transport secretary Alistair Darling sees the scheme as a way to reassure City fat cats who took fright after the collapse of Railtrack last year.