Rail commuters voice anger over planned inflation-busting price hike to regulated fares

Southeastern train

Regulated rail fares will go up by an average 4.1 per cent from January 2014 Photo: Joshua Brown

Train commuters in Lewisham have voiced their anger at the announcement, on Tuesday, August 13, of an above- inflation price rise to regulated fares.

Ticket prices controlled by the Government – regulated fares, off-peak intercity tickets and season tickets – in England will increase by an average 4.1 per cent from January 2014.

Prices will go up by average inflation, as measured by July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI), of 3.1 per cent, plus one per cent.

Thuvaraka Thambiah, 21, a mental health worker from Hither Green complained: “I currently have a student railcard, but as my work does not subsidise travel, I’m really going to feel the pinch when my railcard runs out.”

Louis Kwakye, 25, an office worker from New Cross said: “Inflation has affected everything.  Perhaps, if it [railways] went public there’d be a focus on services and driving prices down.”

Ben Morrison, 33, who works at Queen Mary, University of London in Whitechapel said: “I used to commute to Queen Mary University in Whitechapel from Colchester.  The commute was a nightmare: the service, delays, lack of seats and I was paying £4,500 a year.  We moved to Hayes and part of the reason for moving was that we’d rather put our funds into a mortgage than give that kind of money to train companies.”

Kim French, 31, an administration PA from Sidcup said: “I work in the City. I pay annually to get the best price I can. I always buy my annual pass the day before it goes up. I rely on the train to run a family efficiently.”

Train operators are permitted to raise fares on some routes by an additional 5 per cent, as long as the overall average remains under the cap of 4.1 per cent, meaning some fares could rise by as much as 9.1 per cent.

The Trades Union Congress and the Action for Rail campaign group held demonstrations at 50 stations around the country, warning that the cost of train travel will have leapt by 40 per cent in six years, outstripping the rise in wages.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said it was unacceptable that passengers and taxpayers alike continue to be “ripped off” by the privatised rail system. “We have to put up with unreliable services, overcrowding, and some of the highest fares in Europe,” she said. “Passengers and taxpayers alike are being ripped off.”

The formula for setting price increases is calculated to shift the cost of subsidising railway investment from taxpayers to passengers.

The Government has indicated that it wants to reduce public subsidy of railway running costs from 25 per cent to 32 per cent, a policy which will result in higher ticket prices in the future.

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