Outrage as rail fares set to rise
East Anglian rail passenger groups hit out as it emerged that travellers will face big fare rises in the new New Year with tickets going up by 6pc.It comes just days after fears were raised of a “third class” East Anglian rail service as it was revealed that more than 300 jobs could be lost at the region's leading train company.
East Anglian rail passenger groups hit out as it emerged that travellers will face big fare rises in the new New Year with tickets going up by 6pc.
It comes just days after fears were raised of a “third class” East Anglian rail service as it was revealed that more than 300 jobs could be lost at the region's leading train company.
Across the country, unregulated fares, which include most leisure and advanced-fare tickets, will be rising by an average of 7pc, with some fares going up by an average of more than 11pc.
Both regulated and unregulated fares on National Express East Anglia services are set to rise by 6pc.
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Announcing the rises, the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the increased revenue would help pay for major investment to improve the railways.
Also it would deliver better value for in line with government policy to reduce subsidy to the railway by 40pc between 2006/07 and 2013/14.
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Atoc said train operators were carrying out work worth more than £800m to introduce new trains, refurbish fleets and improve stations.
It added that these measures would benefit passengers through more reliable and comfortable journeys, improved station facilities (including more car and cycle parking) and better personal security.
Fare revenues and government grants would also help fund the multi-billion pound investment programme to increase network capacity which starts in 2009.
Peter Lawrence, president of Norwich-based pressure group Railfuture, said that an increase of 6pc was “of great concern”.
“Fuel costs are coming down and we should be seeing the same reduction in rail prices,” he said.
“While it may be too late to alter this situation for this year we would be looking to the government to take action in terms of some sort of fare freeze next year.”
Anthony Smith, chief executive of customer watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “No fare rises are welcome in the current economic climate.
“These rises hark back to a time of high inflation and spiralling energy costs.
“The economy is different now, but the seemingly unstoppable rail-price express ploughs on.”
In a statement a National Express East Anglia spokesman said: “We are continuing to invest in our business including a £40m upgrade for our fleet of Class 315 electric trains, as well as station improvements at locations including Cambridge, Colchester and Liverpool Street and the start of a £2m scheme
to extend the car park at Manningtree.
“We continue to offer a range of discounted and special fares which provide good value for customers.”
Regulated fares are based on a set formula which limits increases to 1pc above retail price index (RPI) inflation.
The bad news for train travellers is that the fares for a new calendar year are always set at whatever the RPI figure was the previous July.
This year's July RPI was 5pc - a figure which has now dropped,
too late for commuters, to 4.2pc.
The highest annual increase is for unregulated fares on CrossCountry services which will rise in January by an average of 11pc.
In contrast, London Midland has frozen its unregulated fares which, in effect, will go down 5pc.