St Albans commuters may face 11 per cent fare rise
EMBATTLED commuters are facing a sharp rise in rail fares after the “disappointing” news this week that ticket prices could increase by more than 11 per cent.
Official inflation figures, which are used to determine the annual rise for regulated rail fares, have indicated train operators will be able to hike travel costs by an average 6.2 per cent from the new year.
According to government guidelines fares can be set at three per cent above July’s Retail Price Index (RPI), which was announced on Tuesday to measure 3.2 per cent.
But companies are also permitted to push up some train tickets by an extra five per cent which would see them soar even further.
Neil Middleton, chairman of The Association of Public Transport Users, said: “It is disappointing that the government has chosen to push a huge burden on train passengers.
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“Ordinary commuters, who struggle to already to pay their fare, will be forced to pay even more at the same time their tax is going up. They are facing a double whammy.
“Travel to St Albans is already one of the most expensive in the country. Raising fares up to 11 per cent would have a very serious impact on the travellers.
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“If you want a well-paid job you have to be in London and if you have chosen to live in St Albans you have no choice but to pay. People will have to grin and bear it. I think it is a blow to commuters and a huge disappointment.”
Currently a season ticket from St Albans to London travelling with First Capital Connect (FCC) costs �2,988, which it was claimed earlier this year is one of the steepest in the country.
But if prices rocket by 6.2 per cent commuters could be forced to pay around �3,173 per year from January.
And Mr Middleton, who said FCC would be allowed to raise some fares by 11 per cent, believes the company has “no choice” but to follow the government rules. However, he hopes the increase will be spread fairly across all tickets.
He added: “We have always taken the view that the pain needs to be spread equally. We have lobbied FCC successfully over the last couple of years and we hope in principle they will do the same this year.”
Remarking on the bleak news Andy Young, who travels by train from Harpenden to London every day, said: “I must admit that the announcements were not a shock. The ridiculous ticket pricing structure has long been published, however, I totally disagree with any increases.
“I, like many, am on the same salary as I was over four years ago. It is hard enough dealing with inflationary increases to food, petrol, electricity, rates, etc., without finding �200-�300 extra each year to buy a train ticket on a second-rate service.”
And on Twitter Geraldine Warren wrote: “St Albans to London is already the most expensive rail-fare in Europe. In Jan it’ll be increasing 6.2%. Yeah, that makes sense #FirstCC”
James Gleave, who also took to the social network site, said: “Yet despite rail fare increases, train to London is packed leaving St Albans. At lunchtime. Clearly not being charged enough!”
FCC was unable to comment.