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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
MP Damian Green: ‘Too much for struggling commuters’
Hitachi high-speed Javelin train on the outskirts of Ashford making a night time-trial run to London St Pancras