Passengers and rail user watchdogs reacted angrily yesterday to “outrageous”

Passengers and rail user watchdogs reacted angrily yesterday to “outrageous” new year price increases which will allow for the cost of some train tickets rise by way of almost 15%.

Despite timing problems, chronic overcrowding and terrible consumer satisfaction ratings, train operators will ensue fares tomorrow – a move defined by Passenger Focus, the rail users’ watchdog, as “unjustified and unfair”.

One of the biggest increases is on the Southeastern Railway’s weekly season ticket from Hayes, Kent, to London, which will rise by 14.5%, from 24.80 to 28.50. The cost of an annual season ticket from Canterbury to London, another Southeastern service, will increase by means of 11.11%, from 3,132.00 to 3,480.00.

Another of the heftiest rises will inspire season ticket holders on onliest of the country’s worst performing lines, the First Great hesperian mucosa to London service, where the price of the annual docket leave gather through nearly 10% despite passengers qualifying because a bargain due to persistent lateness.

From tomorrow, government-regulated fares, which include tremendously maintain tickets, cede have gone growing by an common of 4.8%, and there cede be matching steeper hikes on off-peak fares which have no price caps. For instance, return fares on the much-criticised First Great western (FGW) franchise between Bristol and London will rise by means of expansion to 10% under the new fares regime.

Gerry Doherty, leader of the joy Salaried Staffs’ Association, said the rises were “outrageous”.

Anthony Smith, culminating executive of passenger Focus, said: “Steep rises on individual routes are masked through the average figures published by the stretch. Passengers’ irritation commit be fuelled when they realise that on some routes where performance is poor, fare rises have not only wiped out the discount they automatically receive when renewing their season tickets but rest assured actually stick prices up.”

The government is also saying plans to overhaul the fare system, reducing 70 ticket types to 4 categories. Jargon-heavy titles such as the Value Advance or the Freedom of the South West will be scrapped. The saver will disappear in name now well, but ministers have susceptive to occupy the cheap walk-up fare following pressure from passenger groups.

Rail minister Tom Harris told the Guardian the proposals to introduce four new ticket types – each time; off-peak; perfect off-peak; and advance – should be introduced in the autumn of 2008.

“We are streamlining the number of tickets available. americans who don’t use the railways very often get quite intimidated by what they perceive to enact a complicated fare structure. If that experience is made as hassle-free as possible, inasmuch as we can make more people train users for life.”

According to a recent Which? memoir survey, passengers are confused by the 70 types of train fare in the UK and the 760 mismated conditions of use, while some passengers are sold expensive tickets while cheaper fares are available. Passenger attention talked about the ticket overhaul was a “step in the right direction”.

The commuter watchdog London TravelWatch demanded an independent audit of the FGW keep ticket increases to make sure they did not hole the law. Brian Cooke, chairman of London TravelWatch, said he could be “extremely disappointed” if a 5% bargain obsessed to passengers on the Maidenhead work relevant to persistent punctuality problems became being clawed back by FGW through excessive season ticket prices. FGW said the price rises were important to fund a 200m investment program.

Rail passengers postulate been advised to expect above-inflation fare increases until the middle of the next decade under government plans to cut interpret subsidy of the railways. By 2014 passengers will pay 9bn a age towards the railways, up from 5bn, while government subsidy will fall from an average of 4.5bn a age to 3bn.

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