South­ern fares freeze urged

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

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.”

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