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Nia Griffith MP has condemned above average increases in local rail fares as a massive burden on local commuters and a drag on the local economy.

Commenting on the new year fare increases, the Llanelli MP said

“How can we encourage people to get out and look for job opportunities around the area when we are seeing local fares go up by as much as a whopping 11.5%? That is way, way above the rate of inflation. But that’s the reality for people coming in to work in Llanelli from west Wales. The official figure of an average 4.2% rise is a smokescreen, masking much higher rises which are hitting hard-pressed commuters just at a time when they are already struggling to make ends meet with inflation and standstill wages. To hear the Government Minister Norman Baker insist that train fare rises are “not nearly as expensive as has been presented” when actually they are much more expensive, just shows how completely out of touch he is with reality. He should look at what is really going on behind the headlines, and see how fare rises are sucking money out of the local economy.

Of the fares I enquired about, only the off-peak ticket to Cardiff kept to the 4.2% figure. The peak time fare from Llanelli to Cardiff is up by 6%, so are daily fares to Swansea and Carmarthen, and the 5.4% rise in the Llanelli to Swansea season ticket hit national news, as one of the highest season ticket increases. That is in complete contradiction to the Swansea city region idea, which is about making it easier for people to travel to job opportunities across the region.

At a time when rail companies are raking in around £8bn from the ever-increasing numbers of passengers, they should treat their local passengers with respect, and keep their fare increases to a minimum, rather than taking advantage of the fact that people need to travel to work.”