Swapping his Jaguar for a train ticket would nearly double the cost of Transport Secretary Philip Hammond's daily commute - despite producing four times less carbon emissions – claim campaigners who have launched a national petition against unfair fares.
Fair Fares Now is using the example of the transport secretary's round trip from his home in Surrey to Westminster to highlight the spiralling cost of rail fares, which are now rising four times faster than wages. As well as the petition, a summer of protests at 40 key commuter stations will see MPs meeting local campaigners and hearing first-hand from passengers in their constituency struggling with transport costs.
With the Government currently reviewing the whole rail fares structure, the petition aims to let ministers know how unpopular and damaging year-on-year fare hikes are. It calls on the Government to reverse its decision to raise fares by 28% over the next three years in favour of more affordable, straightforward tickets that provide good value for money and encourage people to choose the train. Campaigners point out that rail fares, which are linked to inflation, will rise far more than the Government had bargained for due to unexpectedly high inflation rates.
Fair Fares Now is a national campaign from sustainable transport charity Campaign for Better Transport.
Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport's public transport campaigner, said: "Ministers have rushed to provide help for motorists to cope with rising fuel prices, but they are hitting train travellers with astronomical fare hikes. This is a deeply unfair blow to rail commuters and others who rely on public transport. Everyone is struggling with rising costs, not just drivers. The Government is reviewing its policy on train fares at the moment and our campaign this summer will show how just how many people oppose their punitive fare hikes."
People can sign the online petition at www.fairfaresnow.org.uk/petition.