Rail fare hike prompts protests in UK

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Rail fare hike prompts protests in UK

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Rail passengers have been protesting in the UK at the news that ticket fares in England are to rise by an average of 6.2 percent from January.

The leap is the result of surprise July inflation figures. Train ticket prices are based on the July Retail Price Index plus a percentage set by the government to cover investment. And for 2013 it will be three percent.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the transport union RMT, said: “I don’t know any other system in the world where you’re allowed to put your fares up by inflation plus three percent as a given statutory right. If we ask for an inflation plus three percent pay rise we’re told we’re greedy. When the bosses do it it’s good business sense.”

Transport Minister Theresa Villiers said she would seek extra funds from the government to offset the rise. But she added rail users must foot more of the bill for an 11.5 billion euro investment plan.

“At a time when the deficit means tax-payer funds are under intense pressure we need to ask passengers to contribute to those improvements which are going to be very important in relieving crowding on our railways,” Villiers said.

Critics point out the UK already has the most expensive rail service in Europe and say too much money goes to rail operators’ shareholders.

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