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Rail firms condemned over fare hike

Train companies have been condemned after announcing that rail fares would rise by an inflation-busting 6.2% in the new year, with some travellers facing rises of nearly 13%.

Commuters in Kent and Sussex bore the brunt of the sharp increases from train companies, with some season tickets going up 12.8% in January 2011.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) attempted to put a gloss on the figures by confining itself to an announcement that average fares would rise 6.2%.

Atoc said the rises were necessary to ensure Britain "could continue investing in the railways".

But transport union TSSA said the increases were "simply outrageous" while the RMT union said passengers would be paying "inflation-busting increases to travel on overcrowded services".

And rail passenger group London TravelWatch warned that the "dramatic rise" could drive passengers off trains.

For the second year running Atoc gave no breakdown of figures from individual train companies.

The companies which did give more detailed information included Southeastern where a season ticket from Ramsgate in Kent to London increases 12.8% from £3,880 to £4,376.

A season ticket from Ashford International to London on Southeastern rises 12.7% to £4,328, while a Tonbridge-London season ticket goes up 11.8% to £3,408.

Under the existing price rise formula, regulated fares, which include season tickets, will rise by an average of 5.8% in January. There is no limit to what unregulated fares, which include many off-peak tickets, can be raised by.

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