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Travellers face train fare hike in rail tickets
Rail commuters in Hampshire are facing hikes of more than £220 for their annual ticket to London from today.
The cost of season tickets to London Waterloo goesup by as much as 4.24 per cent across the county.
And those boarding trains in Brockenhurst will see their fares rise to £5,412, after a £220 price hike.
The changes see prices rocket across England, Scotland and Wales, with an average increase of 4.2 per cent, after Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to limit the hikes to one per cent above inflation.
The only major stations in Hampshire to have price rises below the national average are Romsey, Fareham and Southampton Central, where passengers will pay £128 more for their annual ticket – a rise of 3.15 per cent.
The rise follows a miserable few weeks for many commuters who have had to contend with floods, signal failures and, on some routes, staff shortages.
Last week, over-running engineering work led to serious over-crowding on some trains.
Campaign groups have pointed out today's increase is the 10th successive above-inflation rise, with some rail season ticket holders seeing their fares rise by more than 50% in the last 10 years.
Also, the TUC has said that fares have risen far faster than wages since the recession in 2008.
Train companies can put some season tickets up by more than 4.2% as long as the overall average does not exceed 4.2%.
The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said it recognised nobody liked paying more for their journey.
But it added that railway funding could only come from taxpayers or from passengers ''and the Government's policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train''.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said the Government had reduced fare rises planned for January 2013 and January 2014 from RPI plus 3% to RPI plus 1%.
He added: ''We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.
''In the longer term, we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises.''
Labour highlighted the fact that some season tickets are allowed to rise by more than the 4.2% average.
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: ''David Cameron misled commuters when he promised to cap fare rises at 1% above inflation.
''Many commuters have faced a nasty new year shock as they discover fares have gone up by as much as 9.2%.
''The Government should come clean with commuters that this is a direct result of their decision to cave in to pressure from the private train companies to let them hike ticket prices beyond the so-called cap.''
Campaign group Railfuture said that some fares could be going up by around 11% or 12%, ''with no perceptible improvement in service''.
Campaign for Better Transport chief executive Stephen Joseph said: ''The impact of successive Government's policies on rail fares is appalling.
'It's truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.''
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: ''I understand the frustration felt by many commuters going back to work today.
''At a time when real wages are falling and household budgets are being squeezed, rail travellers are being forced to endure yet another year of inflation-busting fare increases.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said: ''We understand commuters don't like to pay more to travel to work but it is the Government, not train companies, that decides how much season tickets should rise on average each year.
''Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.
From tomorrow, fares are also going up by an average of 4.2% on the Underground and on London buses.
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