East Anglia: MP’s anger at region’s rail subsidies

A SUFFOLK MP has hit out at the government for its use of the region’s rail travellers’ fares to subsidise franchises in other parts of the country.

Figures obtained by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer have revealed the extent of East Anglian rail passengers’ “unknowing generosity” to other rail companies.

Between April 2010 and April 2011, the last year for which figures are available, the region’s rail users subsidised rail companies across the UK by �108.9 million.

This is set to increase by 166% by the 2013-2014 financial year, to �181 million.

Mr Gummer said the figures showed that someone buying an annual season ticket in 2011 for �5,300 donated �1611.61 to other rail companies.

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He said East Anglia needed the investment far more than many of the regions it is subsidising and it was “time the Government gave us our money back”.

He said: “Rail travellers in Ipswich and the rest of the eastern region will rightly want to know why so much of the money they spend on tickets is given to loss-making companies elsewhere when we do not get badly needed investment in our own infrastructure and rolling stock in return. East Anglia needs this investment far more than many of the regions it is subsidising.

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“How can it be right that over �1,600 from every annual season ticket from Ipswich to London in 2010-2011 was spent elsewhere when our trains are older than those of all but four of the 19 other train operating companies?

“How can it be that last year the London Midland train company received 3.6 pence for every passenger kilometre travelled when their trains are on average 14 years younger than ours? “How can the government explain why it is so generous with East Anglian rail users’ money when our own trains are some of the most overcrowded in the country?”

He added: “I know that this is a formula inherited by the government but that is no excuse for allowing it to stand. Every year the sums we pay increase.

“Ministers need to put this right when they negotiate new franchises with train operating companies.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said fares revenues from the Greater Anglia franchise contributed to funding a “fair and affordable” rail service for all.

He said: “If we tried to introduce a self sufficient system of funding, passengers for Greater Anglia would lose out on future improvements as they would need to contribute more towards infrastructure operations maintenance and renewal costs.

“Improvements to our national rail network, such as the new high capacity freight route for Felixstowe and other East Coast ports and work which could improve services between Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Norwich announced in July are only possible through tax payer and fare payer contributions at a national level.”

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