1. ITV Report

Fury over rail fare rises and delays

Rail campaigners from the transport union TSSA demonstrate outside St Pancras station in London. Photo: PA

Rail passengers have reacted with fury today as they endured familiar problems of delays and cancellations while facing higher fares - which rail minister Norman Baker described as "not nearly as expensive as has been presented".

With commuters forking out an average 4.2% more for their season tickets, Mr Baker added that the annual fare-rise policy has been "inherited from the last Government".

The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the rises were paying for "more trains and faster services" - despite delays on a number of key routes including the Heathrow Express and the Gatwick Express.

Atoc stressed that it was the Government, not the train companies, that made the fares policy.

But shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the Government had "caved in" to train companies by allowing some commuter fares to rise by more than 4.2% as long as the overall 4.2% average was maintained.

Taking all tickets into account, fares rose by an average of 3.9% today, with Tube and London bus fares rising by an average of 4.2%.

Campaigners have pointed out it is the 10th successive above-inflation annual rise, with some fares having increased by more than 50% in the last 10 years.

Mr Baker said he sympathised with travellers facing increases and admitted the fare structure was "not ideal".

He told reporters: "Once you take the basket of fares, include early advance and off-peaks, we are not nearly as expensive as has been presented."

Among above-average rises include a 6.16% hike for a Leeds to Wakefield season ticket, while a Ludlow to Hereford season ticket is increasing 5.28%.

Some Kent commuters have also been stung with above-average hikes, with season tickets to London from Ramsgate, Folkestone, Canterbury, Deal and Dover all going up by around 4.8%.

However, some have escaped the worst of the increases, with commuters to London from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire seeing a 3.18% rise in their season tickets.

Ms Eagle, who joined a protest led by rail union TSSA at King's Cross station, said: "People are paying more for a worse service."

Leeds-bound hairdresser Gavin Lambert, 45, described his service as "rarely on time and often overcrowded", while his friend Kevin Gowland, 46, a musician, said people were taking to the roads as the rail service was "so bad".

Atoc corporate affairs director Edward Welsh told Sky News the fare rise led to investment which produced "more trains, better stations and faster services".

But problems on the lines today included cancellations to some Greater Anglia services, over-running engineering work affecting services at Cannon Street station in London and delays in Hampshire, Devon and Cumbria.

The Cannon Street problem was expcted to carry on tomorrow and Friday. Later, Heathrow Express services were delayed and Gatwick Express trains were held up by a signal fault at Victoria station.

On the Underground, a section of the Metropolitan line was closed but later reopened after a signal fault at Baker Street station in north west London. This also led to severe delays on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines.

Campaign group Railfuture, the Campaign for Better Transport and the TUC all condemned the fare rises today, with the TUC saying that fares had risen far faster than wages since the recession in 2008.

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