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Saturday, 1 June, 2002, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
Fares row over rail discount cards
commuters
Network cards were designed to increase rail travel
Rail passenger groups are accusing train companies of sneaking in a fares rise over plans to change the rules on discount travel.

From Sunday passengers who use Network Railcards for leisure journeys in the south east of England will no longer be able to enjoy a third off the price of the fare.

Rail companies are imposing a 10 minimum fee for card holders.

Passenger organisations say it is "back door fare rises".

Lost revenue

The Network Railcard was introduced in the mid 1980s, to generate more off peak travel on south east commuter routes.

Passengers who hold a card have the advantage of receiving one third off the cost of any ticket after the morning rush hour.

Gwyneth Dunwoody MP
Gwyneth Dunwoody: Wants urgent review of decision

But BBC's transport correspondent Simon Montague said: "Train companies say it's costing them considerable amounts in lost revenue, because it's increasingly being used to obtain cheap travel during the evening peak, adding to overcrowding."

'Bizarre'

Passenger groups say such a move will make the railcard redundant for 90% of south east journeys and claim some off peak fares will rise by more than 50%.

"Transport 2000 warns that move will encourage more people to travel by car - undermining Government targets to increase rail use," said Simon Montague.

The Commons Transport Committee chairman Gwyneth Dunwoody is asking train operators to reconsider urgently their "bizarre decision".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Montague
"The train companies say it's costing them considerable amounts in lost revenue"
BBC News Online's in-depth coverage on the state of the UK's railways


10 year rail plan

1,000 MILE RAIL TRIP
See also:

11 Jan 02 | UK Politics
03 Jan 02 | England
10 Jan 02 | UK Politics
10 Jan 02 | UK
Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


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