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Protests planned over rail fares hike.

A SERIES of protests will be held at railway stations tomorrow, the day the annual increase in fares kicks in, as research shows some commuters are paying a fifth of their salary on train travel.

Fares will go up by an average of 3.4% tomorrow, the biggest increase since 2013, covering unregulated fares such as off-peak leisure tickets, and season tickets will go up by 3.6%.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will hand out chocolates to commuters saying they want to "sweeten the bitter pill" of the increased cost.

The union said the 3.6% season ticket increase is over 50% more than the rise in average earnings last year, with some commuters now paying a fifth of their annual income on rail travel.

Fares have increased by 24.5% since the public sector pay freeze, which came into effect in 2011, limiting pay rises to just over 5% in the same period, said the RMT.

Protests will be held at around 40 railway stations when passengers return to work after the Christmas break.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "It's another new year and yet another hike in fares for passengers. These eye-watering increases will make it even harder for workers to get by.

"While workers are struggling the private train companies are raking it in. As we enter the 25th year anniversary of railway privatisation legislation, the need for public ownership of rail has never been more popular or necessary."

Meanwhile, Britain's trains are the oldest since current records began, an investigation has found.

Passengers are travelling in carriages which were typically built in the mid-1990s, Office of Rail and Road (ORR) statistics show.

Press Association analysis found the average age of 21.1 years is older than at any point in publicly available records and 60% older than in 2006.

Travellers using the Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Scotland have to put up with Britain's oldest trains at 42 years old.

Merseyrail, which runs trains in Merseyside, has the second oldest fleet at 38 years old.

TransPennine Express has the newest trains at an average of just nine years old.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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