July 24 2014 Latest news:
By Chris Bishop
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Mind the gap between your ticket and your bank balance. Commuters between Norfolk and London face fare rises of at least 6pc from January, it emerged today.
Norwich - Liverpool Street: from £6,900, to £7,313 (up £414)
Norwich - Cambridge: from £3,900 to £4,134 (up £234)
Diss - Liverpool Street: from £6,420 to £6,805 (up £385)
Thetford - Liverpool Street: from £6020 to £6,381 (up £361)
King’s Lynn - King’s Cross: from £4,980 to £5,278 (up £298)
Downham Market - King’s Cross: from £4,724 to £5,007 (up £283)
Ely - London: from £4,408 to £4,672 (up £264).
That means a basic £6,900 season ticket between Norwich and London Liverpool Street could cost £7,313, while commuters travelling between King’s Lynn and London could have to pay more than £5,000 a year for the first time.
Train companies will not announce next year’s so-called regulated fares, set according to government guidelines, until October.
But ministers have already said train companies should increase fares by 3pc above the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation, which stood at 3.2pc in July.
And companies could increase some fares by up to 5pc more than this, providing they reduce the cost of tickets elsewhere.
That means commuters using Greater Anglia or First Capital Connect services will not find out exactly how much tickets will increase by until later this year.
The news came as rail unions and consumer groups launched a day of action today, with protests at stations today, including Kings Cross, Waterloo, Euston and in London, Birmingham New Street, and Liverpool Lime Street.
Campaigners said commuters to London were routinely spending up to 15pc of their salary on getting to work.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “I am keen to see what we can do to keep rail fares down to something affordable.
“I shall be looking at whether there is a way of doing that in the autumn but we have to stick with our deficit-reduction policy.”
Ms Greening was asked whether there would be Treasury money available for rail that would enable the fare rise to be reduced. She replied: “Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said part of the increase would help pay for improvements to the network.
The announcement comes weeks after the government announced a £9bn package of improvements for the railways, including dualling the Ely North bottleneck, to speed up services between Lynn, London, Cambridge and Norwich.
“The Government decides the average increase of commuter ticket prices and other regulated fares which train companies will be required to introduce in January 2013,” said Mr Roberts.
“It has been Government policy during the past eight years for passengers to pay a larger share of the cost of operating the railways and to focus taxpayers’ money on investing in longer term improvements to the network.
“Any flexibility train companies have within the rules is to maximise revenue for the Government.”
Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said passengers will be “rightly angry” when they find out the full extent of inflation-busting fare increases imposed on them by government “diktat”.
Unions claim up to 20,000 jobs in the rail industry are at risk under cost-cutting proposals, which will hit station staff, guards, catering and ticket offices, unions said.
Officials at today’s protests will step up demands for the railways to be returned to public ownership, saying that privatisation has led to some of the highest fares in Europe despite a massive increase in taxpayer subsidies to the industry.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “If the Government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries. With the economy flat-lining, this is untenable.
“The Government knows they can’t continue to hit commuters - that’s why they’ve postponed the fuel duty increase. Now they need to give the same help to rail users.”