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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 13:53 GMT
Rail fare rises come under fire
Passengers buying tickets
Passenger groups have criticised the fare increases
Rail passenger groups have criticised above-inflation increases in train fares which have just come into effect.

Regulated fares, which cover season tickets and saver tickets, are going up by an average of 3.9%.

Unregulated fares, including cheap day returns, are rising by an average of 4.5% - but by 8.8% on one line.

The rail companies say they need the extra money for investment but passenger groups and unions say some of the higher fares are "eye-watering".

Click here for a list of each train company's fare rises

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said nobody could be happy about putting fares up but there had been improvements to the railway infrastructure, with nearly a third of the rolling stock having been replaced in the last few years.

These fare rises send out the wrong signal at a time when the government are seeking to get more people on to trains and out of their cars
Tom Brake
Liberal Democrats

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It has all got to be paid for and we've got to strike a balance between the amount of money that the taxpayer puts in and the amount that the fare-payer puts in as well."

But Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Tom Brake described the increases as "a slap in the face for hard-pressed commuters".

"These fare rises send out the wrong signal at a time when the government are seeking to get more people on to trains and out of their cars," he said.

'Rich man's railway'

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the Rail Passengers Council, said: "For passengers travelling long distance, what we're now seeing is a type of railway where only certain people can afford to travel at certain times - it's becoming a rich man's railway.


"This is a public service - it's supported by public money. People should be able to use the service roughly when they want to be able to use it and so these developments are very worrying and we're going to keep a very close eye on them."

And Bob Crow, general secretary of rail union the RMT also questioned the level of fare increases, saying train firms were "shamelessly" using route monopolies to maximise profits on premium routes.

The fares, which came into effect on Monday, were announced last month by the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc).

Director General George Muir said the revenue from fares was needed to pay for "big improvements".

"Our railways are the fastest growing in Europe and operators will continue to introduce new trains, better passenger facilities and improved travel information," he added.

Unregulated fares on GNER's East Coast mainline, which runs between London and Scotland, have seen the largest rise at an average of 8.8%.

Merseyrail has the smallest rises with both regulated and unregulated fares going up by an average of 2.9%.

The rise in regulated fares may be offset for some passengers by discounts for season ticket holders because of the poor performance of companies.

On some routes the discounts will be as much as 10% although most companies will be making five percent discounts.

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RAIL FARE RISES FOR 2006
Train company Average rise %
(regulated fares)
Average rise %
(unregulated fares)
Arriva Trains Wales 3.7 5.4
C2c 3.9 4.4
Central Trains 3.9 6.4
Chiltern Railways 3.9 5
First Great Western 3.9 4.5
First Great Western Link 3.9 4.5
First Scotrail 3.9 3.7
Gatwick Express 3 5.6
GNER 3.9 8.8
Great Northern (WAGN) 3.9 5.2
Heathrow Express N/A 3.6
Hull Trains N/A 5
Island Line Nil Nil
Merseyrail 2.9 2.9
Midland Mainline 3.9 6
Northern 3.9 3.9
One 3.8 3.5
Silverlink 3.9 6.1
South Eastern Trains 3.9 3
Southern 3.9 3.9
South West Trains 3.9 4.9
Thameslink 3.9 2.9
Trans-Pennine Express 3.9 3.2
Virgin Cross Country 3.9 4.6
Virgin West Coast 3.9 5.9
Wessex Trains 3.9 3.9
Source: Atoc




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear some passengers' opinion of the fare increases



SEE ALSO:
Cheaper rail fares 'hard to find'
30 Nov 05 |  Business
Full steam ahead
18 Oct 05 |  Magazine
A 200 ticket to ride
22 Sep 05 |  Magazine
Are rail ticket rises fair?
02 Jan 06 |  Have Your Say


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