Jour­ney times halved – but fares up by a third?

HIGH SPEED: But you could be pay­ing £2 a minute for the priv­i­lege Com­muters face fare whammy for Kent’s new high speed trains

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

That would be the equiv­a­lent of pay­ing nearly £2 a minute to travel and is £10 higher than the low­est re­turn fare cur­rently avail­able on Eurostar to travel to Paris.

The in­crease could also see the costs of a yearly sea­son ticket rise to as much as £5,358 – that is £1,389 more than now.

The prospect of Ash­ford trav­ellers fac­ing huge fare in­creases has al­ready trig­gered con­cerns.

Ash­ford MP Damian Green said it would be too much for com­muters al­ready strug­gling with above-inflation train fare rises due to take ef­fect from Jan­uary.

“South­east­ern has gone for the big­gest in­crease pos­si­ble. I must ad­mit my eye- brows raised be­cause in the cur­rent cli­mate, peo­ple are try­ing to save money.

“Try­ing to squeeze ev­ery last penny out of com­muters seems to me to be an in­ter­est­ing busi­ness prac­tice. It seems to me a high­risk strat­egy.”

The fares could prove pro­hib­i­tive, he added.

“Clearly, the high-speed link is not just im­por­tant for com­muters but is hugely im­por­tant for Ash­ford and the rest of east Kent so it is im­por­tant that this works.

“I hope that if South­east­ern finds that the trains are not fill­ing up, it will have the flex­i­bil­ity to re­duce fares quite quickly.”

It would be un­ac­cept­able if the com­pany sought to re­duce its other stop­ping ser­vices to and from Lon­don to push trav­ellers on to the new line, he said.

A spokesman for South­east­ern said no fi­nal deci- sions had been made about the fare struc­ture.

“There is pro­vi­sion for us in the fran­chise to charge a pre­mium for that part of the jour­ney on High Speed 1 for up to 35 per cent,” he said. “It is un­likely that fares will be fi­nalised un­til later next year.”

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR or email ken­tishe xpress@thek­m­group.co.uk

MP Damian Green: ‘Too much for strug­gling com­muters’

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Hi­tachi high-speed Javelin train on the out­skirts of Ash­ford mak­ing a night time-trial run to Lon­don St Pan­cras

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