December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The cost of rail tickets is set for another major increase in the new year – with the cost of an annual season ticket from Ipswich to Liverpool Street set to breach the £6,000 mark.
The August inflation figure is used to set the limit for ticket fare increases – they can go up by the rate of inflation plus 1%.
With inflation currently running at 3.1%, that means regulated rail fares – season tickets and off-peak tickets – can go up by an average of 4.1% in January. According to the TUC this will mean the average cost of season tickets will have increased by 40% since 2008.
That does not mean every fare will go up by 4.1% – some could be higher while others could be lower. In January this year the average fare increase was 4.2% but the rise for individual lines varied substantially.
Full details of fares are expected to be announced by rail company Greater Anglia in November.
While passengers are expected to complain about the increased fares, there is no sign of any reduction in the number of people wanting to use the train.
As revealed in the EADT earlier this month, the number of passengers travelling by train to and from Suffolk stations has increased by 2.5 times since privatisation in 1997.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who has been spearheading an attempt by local politicians to boost rail investment in the region, accepted that many passengers – and especially regular commuters – would find the fare increases very difficult.
He said: “I will speak to the Chancellor about this and explain to him that many of the people who have to rely on the train, who have no alternative than to pay these increased fares, are really hurting.
“It is very tough – and what is more frustrating is the knowledge that the fare increases in this part of the world are going to subsidise rail lines in the north of England and Scotland.
“Passengers in East Anglia pay some of the highest fares per mile, yet have old trains and have seen little investment in the service. That is not good enough.”
His comments were backed up by Derek Monnery of the Essex Rail Travellers’ federation.
He said: “Passengers from this part of the world will be very unhappy at the prospect of more fare rises.
“They are paying more and more for trains, but the main line trains are 30 to 40 years old, and the commuter trains are not very good.
“Other parts of the country are seeing new stations and major improvements – but all we see here is Crossrail, and that isn’t going to be of any benefit to anyone living beyond Shenfield!”
Opposition politicians and trades unionists used the threatened fares rise to highlight the cost of rail travel and to call for a cheaper transport.
Labour activist and unionist Jane Basham lobbied travellers heading to London from Sudbury station.
She said: “This is a lot of anger out there about the threat of even larger rail fares – I don’t know many people who are getting inflation plus 1% wage rises, yet that is what they are being forced to pay.
“People are getting very angry about this – and feel that the government is just using them because they have no alternative.”
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: “Government determines how the average season ticket price rise is set each year.
“Since 2004, it has been Government policy to allow regulated fares to rise above inflation in order to support investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.
“In order to help limit future fare rises, the rail industry is working with the Government to find ways of providing services even more efficiently, building on the progress that has already been made.”