Southern fares freeze urged
Calls have been made for beleaguered Southern passengers to be exempted from the next annual fares increases.
Regulated fares will rise by 1.9% next January. The figure is based on the retail price index (RPI) measure of inflation for the previous July, which was published on August 16.
Around half of all fares are regulated, including season tickets on most commuter journeys, day returns, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance trips, and Anytime tickets around major cities.
Unlike most franchises, GTR is a management contract. The revenue risk lies with the Department for Transport, so a fare freeze would be much easier to implement than on other train operators, which will have built inflation-matching rises into their business plans.
“For Southern passengers any fare rise is going to feel unfair. Commuters have been suffering poor performance and rising prices will seem wrong,” said Transport Focus Chief Executive Anthony Smith.
“Transport Focus is calling for the Government to freeze fare increases for Southern passengers, and to quickly introduce the promised 15-minute Delay Repay trigger and one-off compensation for badly affected passengers.”
Research for the TUC and the Action for Rail union campaign indicated that fares have risen by 25% in the last six years, while average earnings have grown by 12% over the same period.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rail passengers are paying more and getting less. Trains remain overcrowded, stations are unstaffed, and the guards who ensure journeys run smoothly and safely are under threat.”