Rail user groups respond to price hike in trains from St Albans to London

Thameslink passengers have been hit by fare rises for off-peak travel.

Thameslink passengers have been hit by fare rises for off-peak travel. - Credit: Archant

Passenger user groups have urged Thameslink to go back on their decision to increase train fares for off-peak passengers.

The Association of Public Transport Users (APTU) and the Bedford Commuters Association (BCA) are calling on the train company to reverse the fare increase of 21 to 29 per cent, which was imposed on Monday, May 21.

Train users arriving in central London between 10am and 11am on weekdays from St Albans, Harpenden, Luton, Flitwick and Bedfor, who wish to return outside the evening peak, now have to pay an increased fare.

For people travelling from St Albans, this means they now have to pay £14.90 rather than £12.30, an increase of 21 per cent. Travellers from Harpenden will have to pay £17.50 rather than £14.20, an increase of 23 per cent.

Although the user groups object to the rise in price, they have welcomed the way the fare change means passengers can return home in the evening peak if they want to, rather than having to return during off-peak times.

APTU chairman Neil Middleton said: “These fare increases are not warranted at a time when we are suffering from such a low-quality service - the new trains we use have recently been shown to be the most unreliable trains in the country.”

A spokesman for Thameslink explained that the price hike was to remove the unpopular restriction on off-peak passengers travelling home during peak hours, and would save them money in the long run.

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He said: “Based on passenger feedback, we have removed a very unpopular restriction preventing off peak passengers from travelling home in the evening peak, between 4.30-7pm.

“The off peak ticket is priced at £14.90 and saves passengers £5.10 on the full-priced £20 Anytime ticket that they had to buy previously to travel home at this time.”

The lower fares from St Albans and Harpenden into London are still available, with the new name ‘Super Off-Peak’, although the start time for those tickets is at around 10.30am, an hour later than before.

BCA chairman Arthur Taylor said: “These fare increases will penalise lower paid workers who need to arrive at their place of work by mid-morning and also discourage leisure travel during the week.

“As is too often the case with Thameslink, this change has been badly implemented. There was no consultation or publicity and the website still talks about the old fare structure.”