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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 20:15 GMT
Train fare rises draw criticism
Train tickets
On many lines it is the fourth successive year of above inflation rises
Above-inflation price rises for rail tickets have come under attack from rail groups and opposition politicians.

Many areas' regulated fares, which include season tickets, have risen by 4.3% - about 1% above inflation - but some unregulated fares are up by 7.3%.

The Tories said the "galling" rises showed ministers had failed to sort out the railways. Rail watchdog Passenger Focus said fares needed simplifying.

But the Department for Transport said they "want the railways to grow".

On many main lines it is the fourth successive year in which tickets have risen by more than inflation.

Train companies say the extra money is to pay for service improvements.

It has become too much for people to travel during peak longer distance and therefore people are being pushed off the railways
Anthony Smith
Passenger Focus

But shadow transport secretary Chris Grayling accused ministers of pressurising rail firms to push up prices and force people to stop using the trains.

He said the government had originally set out a 10-year plan to sort out the railways.

The plan included "longer trains, longer platforms, upgrades to main lines, to tackle the capacity problems on our railways, to encourage people to leave their cars at home".

But he said: "None of that's now happening, so the only thing they can do is to push up fares, to collude with the train companies to do that, and as a result reduce overcrowding."

Ticket 'jungle'

The transport department regulates some fares, including season tickets and saver tickets.

Regulated fares account for 40% of tickets sold, and have risen by up to 4.3% in some areas, although many such fares have not increased at all.

Meanwhile, the 60% of fares which are set by private operators increased by up to 7.3%, which is nearly three times the government's 2.7% target rate of inflation.

LONDON-MANCHESTER FARES
Train: 59.50 (Virgin)
Plane: 223 (British Airways)
Car: 130 (based on 35p/mile)
Coach: 27.50 (National Express)
Bus: 21.50 (Megabus)
*leaving 3 Jan, returning 4 Jan, fares cheapest available

Unregulated fares include open tickets, when passengers buy their tickets on the day they want to travel.

Anthony Smith, of Passenger Focus, described the pricing system as a "jungle" that needed to be simplified.

"It has become too much for people to travel during peak longer distance and therefore people are being pushed off the railways. It is not fair," he said.

"Pushing people towards booking ahead in advance and being less flexible, it changes the nature of the railway."

'Commercial decision'

Average increases in unregulated fares will be 6.6% on Virgin West Coast, 5.9% on Midland Mainline and 5.7% on Central Trains.

HAVE YOUR SAY
If they are trying to get us off the roads and onto public transport, this is a funny way to go about it!
Rod Drake, Brighton

Heathrow and Gatwick Express tickets are up by 7.3%, but Merseyrail, which has increased its fares by 3.2%, has seen the lowest average increase.

Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent newspaper, told the BBC the situation abroad was "completely different".

In France the maximum return fare from Paris to Lille - more than the distance between London and Birmingham - was 60, and there was a fare cap of 160 anywhere in Germany.

EXAMPLE EUROPEAN FARES
London-Edinburgh (332 miles) 97.20
Berlin-Munich (312 miles) 70.75
Paris-Bordeaux (310 miles) 47.50
Madrid-Barcelona (314 miles) 42.85
(Standard, off-peak single tickets)

A Department for Transport spokesman said setting fares which are not regulated is "a commercial decision for train operators".

"It is in their interests to provide an attractive range of fares and to encourage more passengers to use the railway," he said.

He added that "most commuter tickets and saver fares have their average increases capped at inflation plus 1%".

The spokesman also addressed the overcrowding issue.

"Passenger numbers have continued to increase, with more than one billion using the network in the last year," he said.

"Ministers have consistently said that they want the railways to grow and passenger numbers to increase and will be publishing later this year a framework for the longer-term future of the railways."

RAIL FARE RISES FOR 2007
Train Company Average rise % (unregulated fares) Average rise % (regulated fares)
Arriva Trains Wales 5.5 4.3
c2c 4.3 4.3
Central Trains 5.7 4.3
Chiltern Railways 4.5 4.3
First Capital Connect 3.5 4.3
First Great Western 4.8 4.3
First ScotRail 4.3 4.3
(Strathclyde) - 0
First TransPennine Express 4.6 4.3
Gatwick Express 7.3 4.3
Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) 5.5 4.3
Heathrow Express 7.3 N/A
Hull Trains 3.5 N/A
Island Line N/A 5.3
Merseyrail 3.2 3.2
Midland Mainline 5.9 4.3
Northern Rail 4.3 4.3
(WYPTE area) - 6.3
'one' 5 4.3
Silverlink 4.3 4.3
Southeastern 4.3 6.3
Southern 4.3 4.3
South West Trains 5.3 4.3
Virgin CrossCountry 4.3 4.3
Virgin West Coast 6.6 4.3
Source: Atoc




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Train fares 'causing confusion'
12 Apr 06 |  Business
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