LLANELLI MP Nia Griffith 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 increases, she 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 per cent?

“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 per cent 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.”

She added that Government Minister Norman Baker’s assertion train fare rises were “not nearly as expensive as has been presented”

showed “how completely out of touch he is with reality”.

Ms Griffith said: “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.

“The peak time fare from Llanelli to Cardiff is up by six per cent, so are daily fares to Swansea and Carmarthen, and the 5.4 per cent rise in the Llanelli to Swansea season ticket hit national news, as one of the highest season ticket increases.

“At a time when rail companies are raking in around £8 billion fromthe 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.”