§ Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from rail users concerning the differences between fare levels for journeys within Wales and for journeys from Wales to English or Irish destinations; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hain
I have received one representation about this matter. The regulation of rail fares is the responsibility of the Franchising Director. I understand that he has powers to regulate fares where it would be in the interests of passengers to do so.
The Franchising Director has imposed a cap on the price of key fares and operators are not able to increase such fares overall above the rate of inflation. From January 1999, those fares will be capped at one percentage point below the rate of inflation for each of the next four years.
Train operators are free to make available discounts which they believe will attract more passengers and fill seats which would otherwise remain empty. Such discounts are a commercial matter for the operators and outside the scope of the Franchising Director's regulation of fares. However, operators are under no obligation to offer discounts between particular destinations, or to price their services in a way which reflects the inclusive deals offered by other operators or agencies.