What Hartlepool MP Mike Hill thinks of the latest rail fare hike

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has hit out at another '˜inflation -busting' rail fare increase.

Thursday, 3rd January 2019, 4:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 7:27 am
Hartlepool Rail Station. Picture by Frank Reid.

Ticket prices went up by an average of 3.1% this week across England and Wales.

Mr Hill said years of annual rises on the Northern rail network, which runs services through Hartlepool, have not resulted in visible improvements for passengers.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

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He said: “Passengers on the rail network in and out of Hartlepool have seen fare increases year in and year out without seeing any visible benefits.

“For example, the 30-year-old Pacers may have gone, but not one of the brand new Class 331 units ordered by Northern Rail, described by them as being ‘a landmark moment for rail travel in the North of England’, will service our town or any Teesside routes.

“Instead town commuters continue to pay through the nose to travel on 27-year-old refurbished Class 158 Sprinters with plug sockets, information screens and new seating.

“According to Northern Rail, some of the trains will even have ‘full climate control’; hardly a convincing argument for yet another inflation-busting increase.”

Mr Hill added talks of improvements to Hartlepool rail station appear to have hit the buffers.

And he said plans for a new station at Horden will just lead to more overcrowded trains if the issue of Northern running two carriage trains only is not addressed.

The MP also blasted transport secretary Chris Grayling over comments that fare rises were because unions demand higher pay rises.

Mr Hill added: “The chaos of the timetable changes over the summer was not down to wage disputes; it was down to the sheer incompetence of the rail operators and gross mismanagement.

“This week fares have risen nearly three times faster than average wages and to who’s benefit?

“The shareholders, certainly not the passengers.”

Northern was not available for comment yesterday.

Earlier last year, it said the upgraded trains were better than the best trains it then operated.

It said some routes were not suitable for the new trains due to line speeds and potential issues with other lines and operators.

A spokesman said: “However, with more than 2,500 services each day – and 98 new units – it would be impossible for every route to be served by one of our new trains.

“The North East will be well served by our fully-refurbished 158s and 156s, which will all be modernised and be better than the best train we currently operate.”