Graphic: Campaigners call for a fare deal as rail prices are set for big rise
PA Archive/Press Association Images
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Pressure has intensified on the chancellor to stop an inflation-busting fare rise for East Anglian commuters poised to endure a 3.5pc hike in their train ticket price.
While rail operators will not publish their fares until later this year, government rules could allow our operators to push the cost of season tickets 1pc above the July inflation rate of 2.5pc – a move which could see the cost of a Norwich to London annual season ticket soar to £7,741.80 in January.
Labour Party activists descended on Norwich station yesterday for a day of action to make the case for the railway to be publicly owned.
Candidates for the Norwich seats Jessica Asato and Clive Lewis both want to see lines taken out of the hands of private operators.
Mr Lewis, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich South, said: “Yet again, fares are going up, private train companies continue to suck up public subsidy, while paying out handsome dividends to their shareholders and cutting staff on our trains and stations.”
Ms Asato added: “We currently have the Dutch government’s train operator, Abellio, running the Norwich to London line. I don’t see why we should be giving our taxpayers’ money away to another country’s rail operator when we can run profitable lines ourselves as we have proven with the East Coast Mainline making £1bn in profit for the government over the last five years.”
But Norwich MP Chloe Smith, one of the leaders of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign said that while she understood that the prospect of rail fare rises was concerning for commuters, and East Anglian commuters were not getting good value for money, they should back the case for investment which will go before the government later this year.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who also leads the Great Eastern Rail Campaign, has said he will seek a meeting with chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to demand that there should be no 3.5pc increase on rail fares on the Great Eastern Main Line between the region and the capital.
He said: “It is not right to keep putting up prices like this while the service is one of the worst in the country. The trains are old and the infrastructure has serious problems associated with it – and yet the price per mile is more in this part of the country than almost anywhere else in Britain.”
An Abellio spokesman said: “We recognise and share the importance that rail passengers place on value for money and improving train services in our region, and we’re working with our stakeholder partners on initiatives including the taskforce which has been established to make the case for greater investment in the Norwich to London mainline.”
Are the current rules about train fares fair? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk
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