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Possible £1,000 fares hike for rail passengers warn commuter groups
HAMPSHIRE’S rail-users could see their season tickets rocket by more than £1,000 in just five years, campaigners have warned.
Fare rises are based on July’s inflation rate, which is published today and expected to be just under three per cent.
Government rules mean rail operators can set fares at up to three per cent above today’s figure. But the complex system means that in reality, some could go up by up to ten per cent – as long as prices on other routes are kept low.
Ministers hinted at new measures to control fare rises that could be announced later this year. But the Treasury is keen to stick to the current pricing model as the Govern-ment looks to reign in public spending.
The Campaign for Better Transport has calculated the likely impact of today’s announcement on fares in some of the key commuting hotspots into London.
Based on current inflation figures, it highlighted Southampton and Winchester as “thousand pound towns” – places where commuters’ tickets will rise by an average of £1,000 between 2011 and 2015.
An annual pass between Southampton and London currently costs £4,864 – in 2013 it is expected to rise by £292, reaching £5,733 by 2015.
This is £1,411 more than the same ticket cost in 2011. A Winchester season ticket is likely to have risen by £1,275 to £5,153 between 2011 and 2015.
Today’s announcement will affect “regulated” fares, which include annual season tickets and some inter-city services.
Rail groups will stage protests today at stations across the country to highlight the fare rise.
Stephen Joseph, the chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “If the Government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries.
“If rail fares are allowed to gallop ahead like this, many commuters to London will soon being paying as much to travel to work as they do in income tax. This is no way to stimulate the economy.”
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “I am keen to see what we can do to keep rail fares down to something affordable. I shall be looking at whether there is a way of doing that in the autumn but we have to stick with our deficit-reduction policy.”