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"The warning of big fare rises is based on past increases"
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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Train fares 'could double'
Passengers at Liverpool Street station
Passengers may be asked to pay even more to travel
Rail fares on some routes could almost double in the next five years, a pressure group has warned.

Transport 2000 said "loopholes" in new contracts being offered to privatised train companies could leave passengers paying the price.

The group wants the next government to order a wide-ranging review of rail fares which would tighten up the rules on ticket prices.

But a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) rejected the call for greater regulation, calling the report "a cynical piece of pre-election crystal ball gazing".

It's time for the politicians to give transport the same priority that the voters do

Stephen Joseph
Transport 2000
Transport 2000 also accused politicians of trying to ignore the issue of transport during the general election campaign.

Fares on key commuter routes are closely regulated and are linked to the performance of individual train companies.

But Transport 2000 executive director Stephen Joseph said: "We are extremely concerned that too many rail fares remain unregulated in the contracts soon to be signed with rail companies."

He said that while bargains were available for those who book in advance, there had been steep rises in walk-on fares.

'Tougher rules'

According to Transport 2000 a single fare from London to Edinburgh, currently 91, could cost 154.70 by January 2006.

The cheapest walk-on return fare currently costs 82.80, but the group estimates passengers may be forking out as much as 309.40 for a standard open return by 2006.

Transport 2000 predicts similar rises for routes between London and cities including Bristol, Cardiff, Norwich and Newcastle.

They have chosen to take selected fares, analyse the pricing increases of the past five years and project that forward

Atoc spokesman
Mr Joseph said: "We want to see the next government instruct the Strategic Rail Authority to draw up tougher rules on fares as part of a wholesale review of rail fares policy.

"The two main parties have tried to turn transport into a non-issue at this election - it's time for the politicians to give transport the same priority that the voters do."

But the Atoc spokesman said Transport 2000 had reached its conclusions by using fare increases brought in by two rail companies to predict the future rates of all 25.

"This is a cynical piece of pre-election crystal ball gazing by Transport 2000," he said.

"They have chosen to take selected fares, analyse the pricing increases of the past five years and project that forward.

"The existing fares regime was put in place at privatisation to provide the right balance between protecting the passenger and allowing train operators to take an innovative approach to growing the market.

"This has been backed up by a 15% growth in the off-peak and leisure market over the past five years.

"Increased regulation will probably abolish these pre-advance bookings and put people off rail."

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