Late Trains mean cheaper fares

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The Independent Online

Many commuters will pay less for their rail fares next year - because their train companies have performed so poorly, it was announced today.

Many commuters will pay less for their rail fares next year - because their train companies have performed so poorly, it was announced today.

Fares will fall on busy routes covered by five southern England companies - Silverlink, South West Trains, Thames, Thameslink and West Anglia Great Northern.

On average, London commuter fares will rise by just 0.3% in the year 2000, the shadow strategic rail authority (SSRA) announced.

Most commuter fares come under the category of regulated fares which are capped by the SSRA.

The 10 London commuter rail operators are subject to regulations that mean fares can be adjusted by up to 2% above or below the cap, depending on how good the company's service has been.

Travellers on poor-performing routes end up paying less, while those with the better-performing companies pay more.

The disparity in the individual companies' performances is shown in the fact that commuters on South West Trains' main line services will pay 1.8% less than in 2000 than they did in 1999, while fares on the Kent Coast services of Connex South Eastern will rise by 2.6%.

The actual increases, or decreases, announced today can be "averaged out" by companies over the range of a basket of fares. This means that the exact price of any one ticket may not be the same as the actual "capped" figure announced today.

About 40% of train companies' fare revenue is regulated, which means that some fares could rise by more than the rate of inflation.

SSRA chief executive Mike Grant said today: "While there may be some rises in some unregulated fares, today's announcement is good news which should encourage more rail travel."

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