Passengers on Merseyrail trains are now paying for yet another year of rising ticket prices. They are forking out an extra 3.6% for their tickets on average across the Merseyrail network from yesterday. Fares on Merseyrail have risen slightly more than across Britain as a whole, but local rail bosses say they are still “good value for money” and some have been frozen.
The priciest Merseyrail ticket will rise to £8.65 for a journey from Chester to Southport , and the cheapest, a return from Liverpool to Sandhills, will be £2. The Rail Delivery Group, which released the national figures, said the extra cash would pay for new trains and better services. But passenger watchdog Transport Focus compared the news to “a chill wind” blowing down platforms as many passengers’ incomes are stagnating or falling.
David O’Leary, commercial director of Merseyrail, claims “Each year, we work hard to keep fares as low as possible. In 2018, the price of some tickets will go up in line with the Retail Price Index, reflecting the rising cost of operating the network”. If Merseyrail’s average ticket price hike is 3.6%, you can multiply your current ticket price by 1.035 to get a rough estimate of your fare cost next year. Day Saver (off peak) Ormskirk/Liverpool £5.20, Anytime Day Return £6.90.
Merseyrail’s profits were recently described as obscene and, eye-watering. Merseyside tax payers and passengers to foot bill for Merseyrail revenue loss during Guard strikes. And recently the RMT exposed documents which reveal that Merseyside tax payers and passengers are to foot the bill for revenue loss as a result of strike action on Merseyrail over plans to remove Guards from trains.
Dutch state owned operator Merseyrail will not lose a penny thanks to a deal signed with Liverpool politicians. Instead, astonishingly, a clause in the agreement between Merseyrail and the controlling transport authority Merseytravel has shown that Merseyrail, which is jointly owned by Serco, is protected from any revenue loss caused by industrial action.
The “Force Majeure” clause in the agreement says: “The Operator shall not be responsible for any failure to perform its obligations ….to the extent that, such failure is caused by or is due to any Force Majeure Event…and such an event includes…“any strike or other industrial action by any or all of the employees of the Operator.”
The latest revelation in what is fast becoming a Merseytravel new trains scandal comes on top of the news that the profit share agreement signed by Merseytravel means Merseyrail are taking up to a quarter of all passenger fares in profits while not paying a penny for the new trains.
As the RMT General Secretary Mick Cash claimed “First, we learn that Liverpool’s politicians signed a deal with Merseyrail that allows the company to skim a quarter of passenger fares in profit whilst paying nothing for new trains and instead getting rid of train guards. Now we find out that another part of the deal they have signed is that Merseyrail are protected from any losses as a result of industrial action and instead hard pressed Merseyside tax payers and passengers will have to pay for Merseyrail’s war on our Guards.”
“There is a growing stench of scandal surrounding the new Merseyrail trains in which the fare payer loses out, the taxpayer loses money, passengers lose the protection of train guards, guards lose their jobs and the only winner is Dutch owned Merseyrail. We are calling for an immediate inquiry into this whole murky deal”.