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Rail fares for Southeastern passengers in Kent to rise by less than expected after Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement

05 December 2013
by Paul Francis

Rail fares for Kent commuters will go up less than had been expected after the Chancellor today announced train operators would not be allowed to increase them by 1% above inflation.

The move means that average regulated fares will go up by 3.1% rather than the planned 4.1% next year.

Next year's ticket prices have yet to be confirmed by rail operator Southeastern.

Southeastern train in Kent. Library picture

Southeastern trains have been delayed by a landslip. Picture: Library image

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne said the government understood how fares were placing pressure on commuters and they would be pegged back.

It is thought the move could save average commuter in the south east £40 to £50 a year.

However, the decision to scrap the 1% above inflation rise will be for 2014 only and it is not clear what will happen the year after.

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The Campaign For Better Transport welcomed the move as "a step in the right direction" as did Kent MPs Tracey Crouch and Mark Reckless, who have both regularly pressed the government over the issue.

Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless tweeted: "Success for our campaign RPI+ train fare escalator ended! Inflation only next year. Was RPI+3 for us under Labour every year."

However, the train company Southeastern will still have flexibility to increase some fares by a maximum of 5.1% as long as cuts are made elsewhere.

David Sidebottom, passenger director of the independent watchdog Passenger Focus, said: "This brings an end to a decade of inflation-busting fare rises and will be welcome news to passengers in England, especially those who rely on the train for work.

"It is something we have been pushing for for several years now, and we are pleased that the government has recognised the need to act to relieve the burden on hard-pressed passengers."

Chancellor George Osborne, pictured on a visit to Sittingbourne in April, gave his Autumn Statement today

Chancellor George Osborne, pictured on a visit to Sittingbourne in April, gave his Autumn Statement today

A Southeastern spokesman said: "We welcome the government's change in the fairs formula. We need to get to work to recast our fares for next year."

The Autumn Statement has also revealed there will be a trial of flexible rail season ticketing in the south east. This is designed to help benefit those who work flexibly or part-time.

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