Commuter fares to go up by nearly 6 per cent

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The Independent Online
RAIL and Tube fares for commuters in the South-east are set to rise by an average of just under 6 per cent in January, 4 per cent more than the current annual rate of inflation, writes Christian Wolmar.

There will be wide variations across the rail network with most Network SouthEast commuters paying more. British Rail has a policy of imposing higher increases on lines that have been improved and, therefore, some commuters will pay more, although the maximum increase is likely to be 10 per cent. First-class fares on InterCity trains will not be increased and standard class fares will only rise slightly because the management is anxious to increase the numbers using trains. Fares on Regional Railways are increased in the spring.

The increases, to be announced officially soon, will not be sufficient to ensure that the cash-strapped organisation, which lost pounds 230m in grant this year, is able to invest enough to keep the system going. A senior rail manager said: 'All the investment that we need is for unsexy things like bridges, track, and signalling. It all needs to be done to keep the railway going but passengers will not even notice, except that their trains will run more regularly.'