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Suffolk/Essex: Rail users to feel squeeze as ticket prices rise

10:58 10 December 2012

Commuters at Ipswich station

Commuters at Ipswich station

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Rail users to feel squeeze as ticket prices rise

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Rises in fares to London:

Ipswich:

Off-peak return: 2012-2013 - 4.8% increase.

Anytime return: 2012-2013 - 9.1% increase.

Stowmarket:

Off-peak return: 2012-2013 - 4.6% increase.

Anytime return: 2012-2013 - 9.2% increase.

Manningtree:

Off-peak return: 2012-2013 - 2.4% increase.

Anytime return: 2012-2013 - 4.1% increase.

Colchester:

Off-peak return: 2012-2013 - 4.1% increase.

Anytime return: 2012-2013 - 4.2% increase.

SOME rail fares on the main Norwich to London line are set to go up by as much as 9.2% from next month, the EADT can reveal.

Anyone buying an unregulated “anytime return” ticket from Stowmarket to London Liverpool Street will have to pay £86.70 in the new year – £7.30 more than the current fee.

Off-peak travel will also be more expensive, with a return journey from Ipswich to the capital going up by £1.70, a 4.8% hike.

Nor will season ticket holders escape the increases, though operators are obliged to keep rises in regulated fares to an average of 4.2%.

Across the board, fares on Greater Anglia services will go up by an average of 4.3% from January 2.

It will limit the rise in regulated fares to last July’s RPI inflation figure plus 1%, rather than the 3% previously proposed, while the level of increase on non-regulated fares is at the discretion of operators. It means that, in line with Government policy, railway funding will come less from the taxpayer and more from the passenger, but that almost all train users will incur above-inflation increases on fares.

Greater Anglia estimates only one in eight customers will be affected by the biggest increases, but passenger groups argue the rises will affect passengers who can least afford it.

The operator noted that ‘anytime’ tickets now account for a relatively small amount of tickets sold, with most passengers opting for season tickets, cheap day or advance tickets.

The cheapest advance one-way ticket between Stowmarket or Ipswich and London will be frozen at the current price of £8.

A spokesman for the company said: “Greater Anglia rail fares will rise by an average of 4.3% from January 2. Annual fare rises help to maintain investment in the railways and are determined largely by Government policy, as confirmed in the autumn statement.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said: “Fare rises are determined largely by Government policy, and the Chancellor confirmed the government’s approach for next year in the Autumn Statement.

“Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger, and the government’s policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train.

“We know nobody likes paying more for their journey, especially to go to work. Train companies will continue working with the rest of the industry to become more cost-efficient, helping to take the pressure off future fare rises.”

The TSSA rail union said rail firms were “ripping off families” by increasing off-peak fares. Manuel Cortes, union general secretary, said the rises would have the biggest impact on those who travel off-peak, because fares were not controlled by the government’s 4.2% price cap.

The East Suffolk Travel Association said that changing fares in this region were consistent with the rest of the country, where the popularity of rail travel was in the ascendance. Secretary, Rod Lock, said: “The situation in our region reflects that of the nation, in that the number of people travelling by train continues to rise year on year.

“These price increases mean fare-payers will be paying more and taxpayers will be paying less. It’s a complicated issue – those who travel only by road will probably be grateful that more people are choosing the train.”

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