I have been contacted by a number of constituents with concerns about our national rail system.
I fully understand the concerns that rail passengers have with the cost of train fares, and the impact that this has on household budgets, and that is why the Government has committed to freeze regulated rail fares in real terms until 2020 which will save around £400 on the average season ticket.
This builds on the work done by the last Government to keep the costs of rail travel down. In 2014, it ensured that, for the first time in a decade, average regulated rail fares were capped at inflation. For this year, Ministers went further, announcing that no regulated rail fares at all would rise by more than inflation.
I accept that any increase in regulated fares is regrettable, but record amounts are being invested to achieve better train services. Fares revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations, as well as the massive upgrade programme which Ministers have driven forward, with £38 billion being invested to 2020. This will mean new state-of-the-art trains, better stations and hundreds of miles of electrified track which will help cut journey times, provide better connections and stimulate growth across the country.
The Government remains committed to benefiting from private sector innovation and operational experience in our railways. Since privatisation, annual rail passenger journey growth has averaged almost 4 per cent, compared to 0.58 per cent over the previous 60 years and the number of passenger journeys has more than doubled.
On a network roughly the same size as 15 years ago there are now 4,000 more services a day, which are all delivered through dynamic private sector stewardship with the flexibility to respond to the needs of passengers. This is reflected in improved passenger satisfaction scores, which are at a higher level now than when first collected in the late 1990s.
Private sector train operating companies also provide billions of pounds to the public purse. The last five franchises let by the previous Government alone are due to pay over £9bn to the Department for Transport over the lives of their contracts.
Thank you again to those of you who have contacted me about this important issue.
Stewart Jackson MP