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  1. ITV Report

Fury at rail fare hikes

High speed trains in Kent. Higher fares on the way. Photo: ITV Meridian

The Government is to go ahead with its policy of an increase of three per cent above the rate of inflation. That will mean rises of around six per cent for most season ticket holders and those who make trips during the rush hour.

The annual fare rise is based on the July RPI figure published today.

The complex rules also mean train companies can increase individual fares by up to five per cent above or below the average. That means some could face rises of up to eleven per cent The overall increase of all fares must by inflation plus three per cent.

The Government say the inflation busting rises are to help pay for billions of pounds of investment in rail services.

They include:

£5b on the Thameslink Project to upgrade services on the Brighton line with 1,200 new carriages.

£850m upgrade of Reading station.

£4.5b for hundreds of new carriages for First Great Western and East Coast. They will have the latest Japanese bullet train technology.

£9b of other improvements to include electrification of the line from Paddington to Basingstoke, Newbury, Banbury, Reading and onto Wales.

Oxford station may be developed with the line between the City and Cambridge reopened.

Freight will will see major improvements from Southampton.

Transport Ministers say with record investment it is only right passengers and the Government should share in paying.

But many argue the rises are too high at a time when the economy is in such a poor state and wage rises are low.

Today passenger groups and the unions will protest at Waterloo.

Work at Reading Station Credit: ITV Meridian

Richard Hebditch, Campaigns Director at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The Government needs to act now on its promise to end inflation-busting fare rises. In the words of the last Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, the railways are in danger of becoming a ‘rich man’s toy’”.

Frances O’Grady, Chair of Action for Rail, said: “These fare rises will add even more pressure to passengers feeling a massive squeeze on their incomes. At the same time The Government is asking the train operators to make cuts to staff on trains and stations and in ticket offices. Passengers are being asked to pay more to get less. We want cuts to rail fares, not rail staff.”

But worse is to come. Passengers face at leastanother two years of hikes where the level will be three per cent overinflation.

Current annual commuter fares to London excluding bus and tube travel are:

Swindon £7,448

Bicester North £4,060

Reading £3,800

Bournemouth £5,748

Brighton £3,392

Ashford International £4,152

Ashford International (high speed) £5,504

Sevenoaks £2,980

Dover £4,640

Dover (high speed) £5,556

Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse says: "Rail fares do seem high and many will not like these inflation busting hikes. On average people in our region will pay around £100 a week to get to work on the train. But when you consider the cost of fuel, congestion charges of up to £10 a day in London and parking charges of up to £30 a day and it remains very good value."

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