Anger as rail fares rise by up to 14.5 per cent

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The Independent Online

By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent

Train companies have been accused of imposing "unjustified and unfair" price increases of up to 14.5 per cent from tomorrow amid warnings that the cost of many season tickets will go up by many times the rate of inflation.

Campaigners said that many fare rises would be far higher than the average 4.8 per cent increase on nationally regulated routes.

Passenger Focus, the rail watchdog, warned that some annual season tickets would rise by 10 per cent or more, while the pressure group the Campaign for Better Transport said increases would be up to 14.5 per cent in some areas.

A survey by Passenger Focus found that an annual season ticket between Canterbury and London would rise 11.11 per cent an increase of 348 while an annual ticket from Gillingham, Kent, to London, would rise 9.78 per cent a rise of 244.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "Steep rises in individual routes are masked by the average figures published by the industry. These unjustified and unfair rises will rankle."

He said train operators who missed targets for the standard of their service should freeze their fares.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport, warned that rising fail fares would no nothing to cut demand for road transport and cut carbon emissions.

He said: "These fare spikes are bad for people and bad for the environment. Once again, the Government is talking tall but walking short when it comes to ensuring the transport sector tackles climate change. If it is serious about tackling climate change, it must ensure train journeys are an attractive, affordable option."

Figures for average fare rises show that regulated fares, including standard peak-rate fares and some off-peak "saver" tickets, will rise by 4.8 per cent, a figure linked to inflation by the Department for Transport.

However, average unregulated fare increases are rising by up to 7 per cent with some train operators.

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies insisted that the large percentage fare increases applied only to a minority of journeys. He insisted: "A very small proportion of fares are going up by more than the average and a number of fares will reduce in price."

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