The Liberal Democrats will vote at their conference in March to end Government control of rail fares. In response to another rise in fares, Sarah Olney MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, called for an end to Government setting rail fares and an immediate fare freeze:
“It is appalling that yet again people are being hit by another grossly unfair Government approved hike in rail fares.
"Enough is enough. The Chancellor’s budget should announce taking ticket prices out of the hands of Government and give power to an independent agency with real teeth to give a fair deal to passengers. This new agency should be told on day one their mission is to not only immediately freeze fares, but to also pave the way for a fairer and simpler system.
“The Government keeps telling us to put up and shut up every year with inflation busting increases in ticket prices. This should be the end of the line for Government control of fares. We have been told for too long rail fares will be made simpler, but passengers too often get conned by a complicated system which is impossible to understand I bet if you quizzed the Transport Secretary himself, you would not get a straight answer on what all the ticket names mean."
- Making tickets more flexible, with more widespread use of ‘carnets’ or books of tickets, to spread out the morning peak and bring in early bird fares.
- Enabling more people to use travelcards and contactless cards and the cheapest fares appropriate for their journey, with discounts based on people commuting regularly doing the same or similar journeys.
- Ensuring that part time and flexible workers don’t lose out on season ticket discounts, and those who travel regularly do not pay more than necessary, by adapting season tickets and bringing in a weekly, monthly, and annual cap, based on the number of days travelled.
- Eliminating perverse features in the fare structure for example ‘split ticketing’, where it can be cheaper to split the same journey over two tickets rather than one; and some return tickets cost either the same or slightly more than a single.
- Establishing a new Railway Agency which will help establish a fairer and simpler ticket price policy.
- The Railway Agency would take responsibilities for economic regulation from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR)], timetabling and other operational responsibilities from Network Rail, and responsibility for many detailed policy decisions from the DfT. The Railway Agency would work with the relevant devolved jurisdictions to develop local and regional railway strategies.
- In the past, Whitehall decision-making on local and commuter services has often been detached from the needs and desires of local people. Liberal Democrats would give budgetary and decision-making powers for local and regional rail services, in particular local and commuter services, to the most appropriate level of devolved or local government. We would give regional or local devolved governments the ability to invest in the rail projects they believe are most urgent.