Passengers must pay an extra 35% to use high-speed rail link

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Passengers must pay up to 35 per cent more to travel on Britain's first high-speed commuter line, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) revealed yesterday, in plans to "re-privatise" one of the country's busiest networks.

Passengers must pay up to 35 per cent more to travel on Britain's first high-speed commuter line, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) revealed yesterday, in plans to "re-privatise" one of the country's busiest networks.

The four groups bidding to take over from South Eastern Trains (SET), which is run by the SRA, have been told to prepare proposals which will allow other ticket prices to rise by 3 per cent above the Retail Price Index in the first five years of the franchise.

The SRA's "stakeholder briefing document" for the Integrated Kent Franchise was published amid protests from rail unions campaigning to keep the operation publicly run.

The successful bidder must to deal with anger among commuters about the possibility of increased fares in general and in particular the price of a ticket for travelling on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link into London St Pancras. The document advises bidders that passengers will not get discounts if they used travelcards on the new super-fast commuter routes.

Domestic services with Japanese Bullet-style trains are due to be used in the high-speed link from Kent in 2009. The services will operate from Ebbsfleet near Gravesend, where the premium fare will be 35 per cent extra, from Birchington(30 per cent) and from Ashford (20 per cent).

The parties invited to bid for the franchise are South Eastern Railways (a joint venture between the Danish railway operator DSB International and Stagecoach), First Kent Integrated Railways (FirstGroup), Great South Eastern Railway (a joint venture between GNER Holdings and MTR Corporation) and London & South Eastern Railway Ltd (a joint venture between Go-Ahead and Keolis).

The Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, said there would be a 10 per cent rise in the number of services arriving in London at morning peak times once the new service pattern was introduced. Journeys from Ashford to central London would be cut by 40 minutes. But Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT rail union, said the re-privatisation of SET was "unnecessary and unjustifiable". He said: "In public hands, SET has registered improvements in punctuality in every quarter since it was rescued from Connex a year or so ago."

Comments