Gordon has accused the Tory Government and Northern Rail of failing Blackpool’s hard-pressed train passengers, who are today facing yet another increase in their train fares.
A weekly ticket to Manchester now have to pay £85.60 – an increase of 3.1% on last year’s fares. A weekly ticket to Preston from Blackpool North has also risen to £36.70 – a rise of also 3.1%. Under the Tories, Blackpool commuters have seen their peak fares and season tickets rise by 36% since 2010.
This comes off the back of a miserable year for local passengers and businesses in Blackpool with Northern’s broken promises on the timetabling fiasco and Network Rail’s ongoing electrification delays to the Blackpool to Preston line. Nationally train punctuality is now at a 13-year low with one in seven trains missing their target of arriving within five minutes of their scheduled time.
Gordon said: “These latest fare increases from Northern and the Government are completely unjustifiable – it’s an insult to commuters to and from Blackpool, who have had to experience a shambolic and second rate service throughout 2018.
“Chris Grayling and the Tories have sat idly by and not held Northern to account for their failings. They also continue to rip off passengers by raising fares in line with the RPI measure of inflation which over estimates real inflation – and which has been condemned by independent statistical authorities.
“Labour will put passengers and business first. We have challenged the Government to force Northern Rail and other failing rail companies to bear the costs of fare freezes for 2019/20. Labour also believe the lasting solution is to bring the railways back into public ownership.”
Gordon has also continued to challenge Northern on the disability accessibility of the replacement buses during the closure of the Blackpool to Preston line in January and February. He added: “We have a lot of elderly or people with mobility issues travelling to and from Blackpool. That’s why I have written to Northern asking for cast-iron guarantees from them that all their replacement buses will be assessable for everyone to use.
“I had first-hand experience myself at using the replacement buses services last year. Blackpool Transport did an excellent job with supplying as many of their disability compliant buses as they could during the long period of disruptions. However it was not always the case for the other coach companies Northern brought in. If Northern fail to give me assurances that I want, I will have no hesitation in raising their failure on this in Parliament.”