Rail fare rise to hit jobless

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AN MP has told Government ministers that high rail fares are harming prospects for jobseekers who cannot afford the prices.

 Easington MP Grahame Morris said the Government had approved a one per cent above inflation increase in rail fares for this year and a further three per cent over the following two years.

But he added that on top of that, the Government has also given rail companies permission to add a further five per cent.

Labour MP Mr Morris has accused the Government of “pricing out the ability of people searching for work to be able to travel on railways”.

It comes after the Hartlepool Mail launched the Work in progress campaign to highlight the plight of jobseekers in Hartlepool and east Durham.

Latest figures show that Hartlepool has 4,671 people claiming jobseeker’s allowance while in Easington there are 3,770.

Mr Morris asked Transport Minister Theresa Villiers what assessment she had made of the effects on jobseekers of rail fare increases.

Mrs Villiers said a Department for Work and Pensions-run scheme helps jobseekers.

Jobcentre Plus issues a discount card to eligible jobseekers to help them travel more cheaply by train to job interviews and training, with up to 50 per cent discount on a range of fares. But Mr Morris said: “A previous Conservative minister advised people to get on their bike to find work.

“It seems the Department for Transport has taken that advice to heart given the rapid increases in rail fares, particularly over the next two years.”

Mr Morris asked Mrs Villiers to confirm that the Government would not allow train companies to increase fares by up to eight per cent above inflation over the next two years, and asked her to consider limiting costs for people in constituencies like his, which has low car ownership.

Mrs Villiers said: “This Government is determined to get the costs of running the railways down.

“We are determined to deliver better value for money for passengers.”