Hefty price hike for passengers?

COMMUTERS could be facing some new year blues with a hefty 6.2 price rise in their train fares.

Figures released on Tuesday revealed July’s retail prices index inflation figure has risen.

The Office for National Statistics revealed RPI rose to 3.2 per cent up from 2.8 per cent in June.

Pressure is now mounting on Chancellor George Osborne.

Mr Osborne has been urged to rethink the Government policy that allows train operators to increase regulated fares by an average of three per cent above July’s RPI figure in 2013.

The cost of an annual season ticket from Hastings to London smashed through the £5,000 barrier in January 2011.

At the current rate it could hit £6,000 by 2016.

Martin Woodfine, of St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement Programme, said: “All we can do is keep putting pressure on the government not to raise prices any higher.

“This has been going on five or six years now and we have consistently kept in touch with MP Amber Rudd to have our voice heard in parliament.

“The government appears to want to contribute less and less towards our railways putting more of the funding onto commuters which is wrong.”

Alison Nolan, spokeswoman for Southeastern Trains, said: “Above inflation fare increases has been a long standing government policy to shift the cost of running the railway from the taxpayer to the passengers; those who use rail services.

“It is for the Government to determine what increase will be applied in January 2013.”

A spokesman for Southern Railway said it was too early for them to speculate how this announcement will affect their passengers but anticipated a final decision around November.

He said: “Above inflation regulated fares increases have been government policy since 2004. This policy seeks to reduce the contribution from taxpayers towards the cost of the railway and increase the share paid by those who use rail services.

“It is for the Government to determine what rate will be applied in January 2013.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “The government decides the average increase of commuter ticket prices and other regulated fares which train companies will be required to introduce in January 2013.

“It has been government policy during the past eight years for passengers to pay a larger share of the cost of operating the railways and to focus taxpayers’ money on investing in longer term improvements to the network.”