Suffolk: Labour puts trains under the spotlight as shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle visits Ipswich

Maria Eagle, Shadow Transport Secretary at Ipswich Station with David Ellesmere

Maria Eagle, Shadow Transport Secretary at Ipswich Station with David Ellesmere - Credit: Archant

COMMUTERS from Ipswich to London could have to pay £8,000 a year for season tickets by 2015 if government plans to ease the cap on fare rises go ahead.

That was the warning from shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle during a visit to the town as part of the run-up to Thursday’s local elections.

And she insisted that a Labour government would impose a firm cap on privatised companies to ensure that regulated prices – both season tickets and “anytime” tickets for one-off journeys – should not rise significantly above the inflation rate.

She also said that the government and local authorities should look at offering more support to bus operators to try to ensure that communities were not cut off during evenings and on Sundays.

Her concern was raised after the EADT reported on fears from public transport campaigners that Suffolk was becoming a county of first and second-class communities – with large towns like Leiston, Haverhill, and Mildenhall cut off from public transport after 6pm because they have no rail link.

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Ms Eagle said: “I think it is important to look at how public transport affects communities.”

Bus companies received subsidies from local and national government totalling about £2 billion, and she felt it would be good to look at the example of Transport for London where services were carefully regulated as a template for the rest of the country.

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The rail industry was also subsidised by the government to the tune of about £4 billion nationally – but Ms Eagle said that was necessary to ensure a coherent national network was maintained.

So far as local bus services were concerned, Ms Eagle said there was one way to ensure more services were subsidised locally: “That is a decision for the county council.

“The way to ensure that the county council puts more support into a public transport network for the whole county is by voting Labour in the local elections tomorrow,” she said.

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