Rail fares set to rise next year

Hundreds of commuters in Hastings and Rother are facing a 3.5 per cent increase to regulated rail fares in January next year after inflation figures used to calculate the rise were published this week.

These latest predictions mean that the average fares across England are due to increase by July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which last month was 2.5 per cent, plus one per cent.

This means that a season ticket from Battle to London in January 2015 could cost £4,860. a £164 increase from £4,696. Although fares are set by the train companies, the Government may decide, as it did in January 2014, to set the rate to the RPI plus zero per cent.

Cllr Rob Cooke, who commutes from Hastings to Tunbridge Wells, said: “My season ticket comes up for renewal in November and it looks like I will be paying annually over £2,300 which is about 10 per cent of my salary. I am pleased that the rise is actually slightly lower than in previous years. But I would have thought with the problems their have been on the line this year they would have taken this into account. They consistently get some of the lowest customer satisfaction scores in the country and seem intent on doing nothing about it. The service commuters receive does not justify an increase in ticket prices.”

Michelle Ulyatt, a spokesperson from Southeastern, said: “Government decides the average change to regulated fares, including season tickets, each year and this is usually set according to a formula that is based on RPI plus one percent. For a decade, successive governments have regulated commuter fares to increase the share of rail’s costs paid by passengers rather than taxpayers. We’re required to work within the formula set out by Government, which allows a ‘flex’ to be applied to take into account demand and service levels. Following this week’s announcement by Government we will now be working to develop our fare structure for 2015 and we’ll provide more information to passengers once this is available.”

A spokesperson from Southern said: “Regulated fares such as season tickets are set by Government, these are regulated so as to increase the share of rail’s costs paid by passengers rather than taxpayers.

“Money raised by regulated fares goes towards better trains, stations and services. We have invested heavily in new trains, with 170 new carriages entering service on the Southern network.”