Price of season tickets increase on Southern despite salary freezes

COMMUTERS who need to buy season tickets from Lewes to London, Brighton or Eastbourne, will be charged more by Southern.

The Sussex Express asked Southern why rail fares for these season tickets were rising so sharply when many workers’ salaries had been frozen.

A monthly ticket from Lewes to Eastbourne was £90.70 for a month and will rise to £96 by about 5.8 per cent.

Or a monthly ticket from Lewes to London Victoria was £339.10 per month this year but will rise to £356, which represents five per cent.

Lewes to Brighton by train for a month was £104.90 per month, but will now be £111, an increase of 5.8 per cent.

A spokesperson for Southern responded: “These are regulated fares. The Government stipulates what the overall average increase for these types of fares are.

“This time round it is RPI (five per cent in July) plus one per cent. It was going to be RPI plus three per cent which would have been an even higher increase but last month, the Government changed the policy to be RPI plus one per cent.

“We have the ability to flex this cap of six per cent by a further two per cent either way. So we have the ability to increase by a maximum of eight per cent. This gives us the opportunity to freeze or even reduce fares on other routes.

“The examples you’ve found are all under the six per cent average, so although no-one likes having to pay more, these increases are not as big as some ticket types.”

Southern pointed out many of next year’s unregulated fares would be offered at this year’s prices. Some of these will be even cheaper with a ten per cent discount if bought online.

Southern’s new fares, which include both regulated and unregulated fares, will increase by an average of 5.9 per cent in line with the national average.

The new fares will come into effect on Monday, January 2.

A large number of fares will be been frozen at 2011 levels, including all Southern Advance fares and many off-peak fares.

Southern’s development director, Alex Foulds said: “The premiums we pay to Government are based on the fares we are allowed to charge, but we have done everything we can for hard-pressed families so that they can still enjoy days out at great prices with us freezing many off-peak, super off-peak and advance fares.”