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The first working day back of the new year is being used for a protest against above-inflation rail fare rises.

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Commuters are being urged to direct their anger about the fare hikes towards the Treasury through tweets, texts or phone calls.

Hefty increases to fares for rail and Tube services in London came into effect yesterday.

Train fares have gone up by an average of 5.9 per cent, but some commuters will find their season tickets are rising by more than this.

For instance, a season ticket between Northampton and the capital rises 6.9 per cent to £4,756.

In London itself, Tube and bus fares have been raised by 5.6 per cent on average.

The increase is lower than was expected due to £136 million funding from the government being secured to limit the effect on commuters.

The Campaign for Better Transport is joining the TSSA transport union outside St Pancras station this morning for a demonstration against the fare rises.

Last week the CBT released figures showing how London commuters are paying up to 10 times more for season tickets on comparable journeys than some European counterparts.

CBT public transport campaigner Sophie Allain said: “When the cost of season tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the government’s fare rises are starting to affect the UK’s competitiveness.

“That’s why, if the government is serious about promoting economic growth, it must also look at reducing planned fare rises in 2013 and 2014 as part of a policy to cut fares and make public transport truly affordable.”

The government, train companies and London Mayor Boris Johnson have claimed fare rises are necessary to sustain investment in the Tube and mainline railway, which includes projects such as Crossrail and Thameslink.

But passenger groups and transport unions are angry the rises come at a time of high inflation and low or no salary increases.

They have also pointed to Network Rail’s poor punctuality on long-distance rail routes as highlighted recently by the Office of Rail Regulation.

Passengers in London today expressed their outrage at the fare increases.

Civil servant Craig Marshall, 47, from Northwood in north-west London, said he had just paid £129 for a one-way ordinary single ticket from King’s Cross to Edinburgh.

He went on: “This is a lot more than I paid the last time I did this journey a few weeks ago when I think it was something like £89.

“I normally travel on South West Trains between London and Southampton Central and that service has got worse and worse.

“I am not very happy at all at these fare rises. Passengers, once again, are paying for the failure of train companies.”

Accountant Martin Lunan, 27, from Mile End, east London, was travelling from St Pancras station in London to Leicester.

He said: “I would have been happy to pay increases if the services improved. I recognise that higher fares pay for more investment in the rail and Tube networks but I don’t think we’re seeing better services.”

Another passenger departing from St Pancras, who gave his name as Freeman from Lewisham in south-east London, said he had actually managed to buy an advance ticket to Derby for less than he normally paid for the journey.

He went on: “I’m happy with the ticket I’ve got today but I’m fairly cynical about these fare rises.

“It would be nice to think the extra money will go on improving services, but I doubt it’s going to make any difference.”

Labour’s mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone is also backing today’s protest, promoting his Fare Deal plan which he claims will cut fares by seven per cent.

The party is warning how fares in London are now costing more than a quarter of minimum-wage take-home pay.

Activists are handing out leaflets at Tube, train, tram and bus stations today.

Mr Livingstone said: “Before millions of Londoners even arrive at work this morning they will have felt the pain of a fourth year of above-inflation bus, Tube and train fare hikes under Boris Johnson.

“This is the wrong fare rise at the wrong time, taking money out of people’s pockets when the London economy is struggling and when people are very hard pressed.

“The impact applies across London and across ages and income brackets. Yet every year the Mayor rakes in more income from fares than his budgets and business plans says he will.”

What are your thoughts about the public transport fare rises in London? Are they too high? Does travelling around the capital put too much strain on your finances? Add your comments below or tweet us @archantlondon24

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1 comment

  • While I fully support the campaign to hold down train fares whilst maintaiing the investment in better services, Craig Marshall's comments on South West Trains are misplaced. It is an inconvenient fact that South West Trains punctuality and reliability is actually amongst the best in the UK and compares very well with similar services in Europe. Yes there were a lot of problems in December, around half caused by people jumping in front of trains or cable thefts. I use the same trains as Craig every day and for him to say the service has got worse and worse is simply not true - it is a lot better now than it was 5 years ago. Craig should also note that aside from better reliability and punctuality, the money will give him longer trains and more seats in 2013. Similarly Martin Lunan would fail to recognise the service out of St Pancras just 7 years ago, the timetables has doubled in size, with new trains and a totally rejuvinated St Pancras. Now I am certainly not an apologist for the current service, but facts are facts. The problem is the current government is intent on switcing any funding from the taxpayer away to farepayers - hence the permitting of large fare increases (something other European governments would not dare do). Investment is at record levels, but its all being swallowed up as soon its provided by the increasing number of people in our increasingly digital age using trains, that are put off by even bigger increases in diesel, petrol and car insurance costs. We should demand cheaper fares, demand teh TOC's become more efficient and demand the government invest more in additional capacity.

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    pugw4sh

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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