Anger at rail ticket price hike

PASSENGERS spoke of their anger last night after rail operator One announced price hikes on commuter fares between East Anglia and London.The 1,000 people who pay for their tickets on a monthly tariff, through the Season Direct scheme, will be hardest hit, with prices going up by as much as 11% from January.

PASSENGERS spoke of their anger last night after rail operator One announced price hikes on commuter fares between East Anglia and London.

The 1,000 people who pay for their tickets on a monthly tariff, through the Season Direct scheme, will be hardest hit, with prices going up by as much as 11% from January.

And the 22,000 season ticket holders who use the line between Liverpool Street and East Anglia will also have to pay between 3.5 and 5.7% more.

David Bigg, of the Witham and Braintree Passengers Association, last night described the rises, which come in the wake of a series of lengthy delays, as a “kick in the teeth”.


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And Paul Galbraith, who commutes daily to London from his Manningtree home, claimed it was evidence of the operator trying to “maximise” its purse.

But One argued services were currently running at their most punctual level in six years and prices were being put up to cover increased costs.

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Spokesman Jonathan Denby said: “Clearly, we are sorry if people feel particularly angry about it but there's never a good time for fares to go up.

“The rise for Season Direct is higher than the normal season tickets rise - the reason being that this has some benefits that are not available to normal season ticket holders.”

While annual season tickets are paid in a lump sum, Season Direct tickets are paid in monthly instalments. Those signed up also receive automatic compensation pay-outs when services are delayed. The price hike would see a monthly ticket from Ipswich increase from £380 to £423.

Mr Denby said: “People do have the choice of getting an annual season ticket if they'd prefer.”

One has also announced a series of hikes on season tickets, although these differ between stations along the line.

Mr Denby said the increases will be worked out on a sliding scale, with season ticket prices increasing by 3.5% from Colchester, 5.3% from Manningtree, 5.5% from Ipswich and 5.7% from Diss.

He said the rail operator was looking to establish more “logical links” on fares to London, with those closer to the capital paying less than people further away.

But Mr Bigg said any rise was unacceptable at the current time.

“These increases are a kick in the teeth because the service in the past two to three weeks has deteriorated markedly,” he said.

“How can you justify price hikes above the rate of inflation? If they provide a good service, we will pay a premium but they're not. They're providing a shocking service and the prices should be frozen.

“I will acknowledge that things can go wrong from time to time but they shouldn't be going wrong this often.”

Mr Galbraith, 26, added: “By having bigger percentage increases on journeys from places further away from London, it seems One is looking to maximise its purse because these fares are already more expensive.

“It's going to deter people from moving out to places like Manningtree and Colchester and further afield. You're saving money on your mortgage but having to pay more to get to work.”

ANNUAL SEASON TICKET PRICES

Diss - up from £4,920 to £5,200

Ipswich - up from £4,400 to £4,640

Manningtree - up from £3,760 to £3,960

Colchester - up from £3,400 to £3,520

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