Commuters hit with new year fare hikes

One of the Class 365 trains that will be lengthened
One of the Class 365 trains that will be lengthened

Commuters were welcomed back to work on Wednesday with news that they are being hit in the pocket by new year rail fare increases.

An annual season ticket to travel from Hemel Hempstead to London has gone up by more than £100, from £3,196 to £3,304 – and the seven-day equivalent now costs £82.60, up from £79.90.

Although London Midland has increased its fares by an average of 2.8 per cent, a spokesman for the rail operator said: “This is below the overall national industry average of 3.9 per cent. We continue to work hard to ensure we deliver value for money across our network.”

Train firms are blaming the government for the controversial increases.

Chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies Michael Roberts said: “We understand commuters don’t like to pay more to travel to work but it is the government, not train companies, that decides how much season tickets should rise on average each year.

“Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation. Ministers want passengers to pay a larger share of railway running costs to reduce the contribution from taxpayers while sustaining investment in better stations, new trains and faster services.”

Campaign for Better Transport has launched an online petition calling on the government to name a date to end above inflation fare rises.

A group statement said: “It is unacceptable that government policies on rail fares are making the choice to take the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford.”

Are you a commuter struggling to foot the bill to get to work? Call the newsroom on 01442 898454.