Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Commuters hit by 6.46% fare rise

Kent commuters will bear the brunt of the new year rail fare rises with some season tickets rising by more than six per cent

Commuters from Kent will bear the brunt of the new year rail fare rises, with some season tickets rising almost 6.5%.

Many southern England travellers commuting into London will face January rises close to the capped national average of 4.2% but season tickets for commuters from the stations of Ramsgate, Dover Priory and Deal will go up 6.46% to £4,940 on January 2.

A season ticket to London from another Kent town, Folkestone, goes up 5.98% to £4,888, while a Canterbury-London season rises 5.93% to £4,860. Commuters buying season tickets from Tonbridge in Kent to London will have to fork out £3,796 from January - a 5.2% rise. Season ticket holders travelling from West Malling in Kent to London will see their fares rise 5.17% to £3,904 in the new year.

Regulated fares, which include season tickets and which account for around 40% of all fares, are set to rise by an average of 4.2% from January 2.

Rises could have been steeper but for Government intervention to limit the regulated fare rise to RPI inflation (as of July) plus 1%, rather than the planned RPI plus 3% increase although train companies can raise some season tickets above the 4.2% ceiling as long as the average increase on their trains is no more than 4.2%.

Fares that will rise above this 4.2% average include Northampton to London (up 4.7% to £4,980); Morpeth to Newcastle upon Tyne (up 5% to £1,008); Llanelli to Swansea (up 5.4% to £624), Bangor-Llandudno (up 5.2% to £1,140) and Ludlow to Hereford (up 5.3% to £1,192).

Some season tickets are not rising as much as 4.2%, while others are on, or very close, to the average with the cost of a season ticket from Shenfield in Essex to London falling from £2,720 to £2,704, while an Ellesmere Port to Chester annual ticket is rising only 2.3% to £720.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "Thousands of commuters across south east England will be paying more than £5,000 a year for their season tickets because of the Government's unfair annual inflation-plus fare rises."

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "A one-nation economy requires the spiralling cost of getting to work to be brought under control. Labour would strictly enforce the fare cap on every route and restore the ban on train companies imposing higher increases."

Richard Hebditch, campaigns director for Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Pricing people off the railways is bad for passengers, bad for the environment and bad for the economy. The Government must act on its promise to stop above-inflation rises. The Government backed down on its plans for even-higher fare rises from January, but this hike is still twice as big as average wage rises. After 10 years of above-inflation increases, train fares are simply too expensive for many people."

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