Higher fares on Southern trains as Campaign for Better Transport launches petition to end above inflation fare increases

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Train users were faced with average fare increases across the Southern network of 4.2 per cent from today (Wednesday January 2).

However the train operator, which runs services around Sussex, said many fares would rise by less, some fall and others would be frozen.

Southern pointed out advance fares would remain frozen for the sixth consecutive year with ticket prices starting at just £5.

Regulated fares, including season tickets, are set by the Government, with this year’s rise capped at an average of the Retail Prices Index rate of inflation plus one per cent (4.2 per cent).

The Government argues the fares national rail passengers pay will continue to support a major programme of rail improvements, the largest in scale since the Victorian era.

It says the money will deliver crucial benefits for passengers, including relief from crowding on some of the nation’s busiest routes.

Speaking on the Today Programme this week, transport minister Norman Baker said: “We have embarked on the biggest investment project since the 19th century,” adding this required investment, that it was right tax payers paid towards it and that there were record numbers using the trains at present.

He continued: “We want to end the above inflation increases as soon as we can.”

But the Campaign for Better Transport said the Government’s policy of above inflation train fare increases meant many season ticket prices had risen by more than 50 per cent in the ten years since 2003.

New research by Campaign for Better Transport showed that in the last decade London commuters have seen:

• Average season ticket costs increase by £1300

• Fares grow 20 per cent faster than wages

• Average costs in real terms increasing by £360

Chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport Stephen Joseph said: “The impact of successive Government’s policies on rail fares is appalling.

“It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford. The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”

Campaign for Better Transport has launched a petition calling on Government to name a date to end the above inflation formula and commit to reducing fares relative to inflation.

It argues more affordable rail fares will increase job opportunities, promote local economies as well as reducing Co2 emissions, road congestion and pollution.

To sign the petition visit http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/fair-fares-now