Greater Anglia under fire as rail fares go up again
PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:39 02 January 2020
Rail fares across the Greater Anglia network have gone up by an average of 2.6% today - adding nearly £200 to the cost of a season ticket from Ipswich to Liverpool Street.
And commuters using trains for short journeys within Suffolk will see even greater increases as they are subjected to some of the highest fare rises in the country.
The annual Suffolk Anglia Plus Season Ticket - used by regular commuters from places like Bury St Edmunds, Diss, or Lowestoft to Ipswich - go up substantially.
A season ticket will now cost £2,364 - a rise of £188 or 8.8% - while the weekly ticket has gone up from £54.30 to £59.10, another 8.8% rise.
However, daily walk-on fares for stations covered by these tickets rise by around 2.6%.
This is in line with the rises to "regulated fares" - those approved by the Department for Transport. These price increases affect season tickets and off-peak fares bought on the day of travel.
Most advanced-purchase fares, which are not regulated and can be lower for most journeys, are unaffected by the price hikes.
The rises have provoked anger and irritation from rail users, especially as they come after a month of disruptions across the Greater Anglia network.
There has been widespread disruption to rural and regional services because of signalling problems which required major checks to be made on the new trains they recently started to introduce.
These issues are continuing to affect travellers with Greater Anglia suspending most services on the Ipswich to Peterborough line until later this month.
However, the cost of an annual season ticket on this line will rise by £124 today from £4,424 to £4,548.
There have also been problems on the main line with shorter Intercity trains operating or suburban trains being called in to cover for them on some long-distance services.
Derek Monnery from the Essex Rail Users' Federation said the rise was not credible: "The government puts up rail fares by the inflation rate every year but they have frozen petrol duty for years - they penalise environmentally-friendly transport but support those driving private cars."
David Sidebottom, director of watchdog Transport Focus, said: "We speak to thousands of passengers each year and we know that less than half feel they get value for money."
The fares are set by the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operating companies and Network Rail the rises are based on the Retail Price Increase in July.
A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: "Our average fare increase is just under 2.6%, however we have frozen some of our ticket prices, including all of our advance fares which start from £6 and can be up to 60-70% cheaper than walk-up fares.
"The increase applies to government regulated fares, such as season tickets and anytime singles and returns. We need to apply this increase, as many of our costs will increase by at least 2.8% in line with inflation."
Rail companies have to keep their overall rise to below the 2.7% inflation rate, but individual fares can exceed that so long as they are offset by other lower fares.