Commuter rail fares to rise 6%

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The Independent Online
COMMUTERS in south-east England face rail fare increases of 6 per cent in the New Year but passengers using InterCity will only have to pay increases of 3 per cent, British Rail revealed yesterday.

The increases, which apply from 2 January and are in line with expectations, show a different marketing strategy by the two BR divisions, InterCity and Network SouthEast. InterCity has frozen both its first-class and leisure fares such as Saver, SuperSaver, Apex and SuperApex fares. The only InterCity increases will be for the normal unrestricted Standard (second class), where the average increase will be 3 per cent, and season tickets.

Network SouthEast has imposed an across-the-board increase averaging 6 per cent, although rises will vary between lines depending on the standard of service set for each line.

The lowest rise will be 3 per cent - on poor performing lines such as Thames and Kent Coast - and the highest 8 per cent - on Chiltern, Northampton, West Anglia, Great Northern, South Western and Thameslink. Off-peak fares will go up by an average of 4 per cent.

John Nelson, managing director of Network SouthEast, said government grant and revenue from property and fares had gone down, leaving a pounds 230m shortfall. 'Less than pounds 50m of the shortfall will come from these fares increases. The rest will be made from marketing leisure travel, reduced operating costs and reduced investment.'

Travelcards, which offer unlimited travel on bus, Underground and trains in London will go up by 7.7 per cent. Fares on Regional Railways services are to be increased later in the year but have not yet been announced.

A spokesman for the passengers' watchdog, the Central Transport Consultative Committee, said: 'Increases on some lines of up to four times the rate of inflation are unprecedented and will do nothing to reverse the huge drop in rail commuting over recent years.'