RAIL fare rises being introduced in the region and across the UK this week come at a time of “no perceptible improvement in services”, a campaign group has said.

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Fares are set to increase from Wednesday by just over 4% along the Greater Anglia network, with an annual ticket from Ipswich to London going up from £5,608 to £5,840, while for commuters in Stowmarket, an annual ticket will rise from £5,712 to £5,948. 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. The average season ticket increase across the UK of 4.2% is the 10th above-inflation increase in a row, said the Railfuture group.

The Association of Train Operating Companies has said that the overall average rise, including non-season tickets, will be 3.9%, with some fares not going up as much as this.

Railfuture spokesman Bruce Williamson said: “Yet again, rail fares go up with no perceptible improvement in service. Over the last 10 years, fares have increased by more than 50% – much more than people’s incomes.”

But Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Family budgets are being squeezed, so that is why this coalition Government has taken proactive steps to cut the planned fare rises from 3% to 1% above inflation until 2014.”

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