Lewes MP ‘appalled’ at Southern fare increases

Maria Caulfield
Maria Caulfield

Lewes’ MP is ‘appalled’ at plans to increase Southern train fares by nearly two per cent in 2017.

Maria Caulfield has welcomed a compensation package for rail users on the Southern network, with season ticket holders due to receive a payment equivalent to one month’s travel.

Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway is also lowering the threshold for compensation paid for delays down from 30 minutes to 15.

Ms Caulfield said: “Although these moves are welcome progress, I am appalled by the proposed increase in rail fares.

“These announcements won’t stop me in my tracks. I remain fully committed to finding a resolution to this whole sorry saga once and for all, and as such I shall continue to put pressure on the Government to freeze rail fares for those using the Southern Network meanwhile pushing for Government intervention.”

Fares will rise by an average of 1.8 per cent from January 2, in line with annual increases of other train operators, it was confirmed today (Friday December 2).

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said: “Our passengers have had to endure many months of disruption and misery due to industrial action and poor performance and for that I am truly sorry.

“While they have clearly been able to claim under our Delay Repay scheme, we welcome this additional compensation package.

“It is also good news that our passengers will be the first to benefit from Delay Repay 15 as it is something our passengers have been telling us they want for some time. Our aim is always to get passengers to where they want to go on time, but if we don’t, it is right that they are compensated.”

More than 84,000 passengers will be compensated to recognise the particular hardship of suffering long delays, cancellations, and disruption in recent months.

This disruption is due to a number of causes including Network Rail track failures, engineering works, unacceptably poor performance by the operator, and industrial disputes, Government ministers claimed.

Season ticket holders will be able to claim a refund for the equivalent of a month’s (four weeks) travel. That means an annual season ticket holder will be able to claim a refund against their 2016 ticket, which can be paid directly into their bank account.

Rail minister Paul Maynard added: “Getting Southern rail services back on track is a priority for the government and I know that what passengers want most is a reliable service. But when things do go wrong it is right that we compensate people who have not had the service that they deserve. This is a gesture in recognition of the problems people have faced.

“We’re working hard to get Network Rail and Southern to improve this network and get this railway working the way people expect. We are investing record amounts in improving our railways and we need everyone in the rail industry, including the unions, to work together to deliver for passengers.

“In addition from next week (December 11) passengers will be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late. This is a major improvement for passengers.”

GTR has the details of most season ticket holders who will have given their details when purchasing their tickets.

It will be inviting them to log into a website to claim compensation - which can be transferred directly to their bank account or claimed as vouchers.

Customers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between April 24 and December 31 to be eligible.

GTR will also be able to consider proof of purchase from people claiming this compensation who are not registered with the company.

Under the separate scheme ‘Delay Repay 15’, GTR passengers will be able to claim 25 per cent of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes, with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.

The existing ‘Delay Repay’ thresholds are as follows:

· 50 per cent of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes,

· 100 per cent of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more,

· 100 per cent of the return fare for delays of two hours or more.

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