October 31 2014 Latest news:

RAIL fares are set to increase by just over 4% from January next year, it has been revealed.

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An annual ticket from Ipswich to London will go up from £5,608 to £5,840, while for commuters in Stowmarket, an annual ticket will rise from £5,712 to £5,948, in the wake of July’s inflation figures.

Fares in Essex will also increase by 4.1% in 2013. An annual ticket from Colchester to London will cost £4,556 compared with £4,376 this year, while prices from Manningtree will increase from £4,860 to £5,060.

The rises could have been steeper but for an intervention by the Government to limit the regulated fare rise to inflation plus 1%, rather than the planned inflation plus 3% increase.

However, rail customer watchdog Pasenger Focus said the Government and the rail industry must work together to get fares in line with inflation.

Train companies have the flexibility to raise some season tickets above the 4.2% ceiling as long as the average increase on their trains is no more than 4.2%.

In some places, such as Canterbury in Kent, the rise is as high as 6%.

Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers will feel this pain.

“After years of above-inflation fare rises, fresh increases are piling pressure on already high fares. The Government and the rail industry must now work together to deliver on the welcome promise to get fare rises in line with inflation.”

But East Suffolk Travellers’ Association said their members were expecting the rise and it was unlikely that the Government would have been able to limit the fare rise anymore.

Secretary Rod Lock said: “We were expecting passengers to have to pay more and tax payers paying less. There is some fairness for those that don’t use trains because their taxes subsidise the rail ways.

“The Government is doing its best to help commuters.

“I have not yet received any complaints from our members.”

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users Federation said rail prices were already the highest in Europe and recommended rail passengers to buy their season tickets before the hike which kicks in on January 2.

“We don’t like to have to pay more for anything.” he said. “We still have the highest rail fares if not in the world then certainly in Europe.

“High fare levels are a disincentive to travel by train and an incentive to use cars and that’s not good.

“I understand the Government need to invest in the railway but they must have smelt the potential outcry if they went up anymore. If they had not intervened, they would lose a lot of MP seats in Essex.

“Thrifty rail users can buy their season tickets now at the same price so we urge them to do that.”

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