More pain on the train as ticket prices increase
Rail passengers in Ashford face more pain next year with season ticket prices and other fares set to rise on average by 3.5%.
Official inflation figures used to calculate fare increases were published this week.
The Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation for July was 2.5%, down from 2.6% in June, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Regulated train fares,which include season tickets, can rise by RPI plus 1%.
The hike for 2015 will be marginally lower than this year but that is unlikely to appease hard-press commuters.
Martin Abrams, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “With people’s wages stagnating, and in some cases falling, the expense of taking the train to work has become a huge part of living costs. If the government doesn’t put an end to above-inflation fare increases quickly, ordinary commuters will be priced off the train and could be forced into agonising decisions such as moving house or quitting their jobs.”
Ashford MP Damian Green acknowledged the burden on commuters, saying he wanted an end to above-inflation rises. He urged the Chancellor to scrap the additional 1% on fares, as the government did last year.
“The era of above-inflation rises needs to come to an end. Rail travellers are being stretched to their limits. Higher fares ought to be accompanied by more reliable services. Services that are unreliable are not acceptable. I do think people are more willing to pay for premium services like High Speed One because it is reliable.”
Michael Roberts, chief of The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies including Southeastern and Southern, said: “Government decides the average change to regulated fares, including season tickets, each year. For a decade, successive governments have regulated commuter fares so as to increase the share of rail’s costs paid by passengers rather than taxpayers.”
The formula also allows train companies to raise regulated fares by a further 2% under the flex rule. A 3.5% increase would see the price of a travelcard annual season ticket from Ashford to London, which includes High Speed One, rise by £206 to £6,119.
The cost of a yearlong standard season ticket, which excludes High Speed One services, would increase by £195 to £5,754.
For a season ticket excluding use of the underground, the cost would increase by £178 to £5,102.
The cost of a standard season ticket from Folkestone, excluding High Speed One, would increase by £173 to £5,158.
For a yearly season ticket including High Speed One services, the cost would rise to £6,142.
Kent commuters were faced with a lower than expected increase on regulated fares this year after Southeastern decided to peg back average increases to 2.8%.
With an election looming, the government could be looking for ways to spare rail travellers being stung by large hikes in season tickets.
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Damian Green MP