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Another blow to rail users as fares soar 9%
IT has been described as a “sledgehammer blow” for train passengers in Hampshire.
Rail fares will go up by an average 4.1 per cent from the start of next year, sparking outrage among consumer groups.
However, rail bosses could ramp fares up by as much as 9.1 per cent on some routes, as long as the company’s regulated fares average 4.1 per cent.
It would mean commuters could be asked to stump up £5,450 for an annual season ticket between Southampton Airport Parkway and London Waterloo, if a 9.1 per cent increase came in.
The fares have been calculated using the retail price index measure of inflation for July – which was revealed as 3.1 per cent yesterday – plus an additional one per cent.
Rail bosses say the rise is needed to fund investment in more trains and better stations.
But the news sparked condemnation from passengers, while union bosses have described it as “a kick in the teeth for the British people”.
Denis Fryer, of the South Hampshire Rail Users Group, said: “It’s become an annual event to raise it by inflation and then add another one per cent. For commuters, it’s just squeezing their living standards down.
“The trouble is that in the past the money was reinvested, and nationwide that’s true. There are grand projects like the high-speed link, but down here we’re not getting our share of the cake. It’s going on dividends and bonuses in the millions.”
Eastleigh’s Lib Dem MP Mike Thornton called it a “sledgehammer blow to disposable incomes”.
The Campaign for Better Transport recently published figures showing rail fares are increasing nearly twice as fast as incomes.
They say January’s rise will be the sixth time in seven years that rail fares have outstripped wages.
Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: “Getting to work is now the biggest single monthly outgoing for many commuters.”
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