Lower rail fare hikes for Kent passengers as ticket price powers curbed for train operators including Southeastern
A cap on rail fares on the Kent rail network will mean lower than expected increases on some journeys from next year.
The government has today announced train operators will be stopped from increasing regulated fares by as much as 9.1% from January. They will now be capped at 6.1%.
Transport secretary Patrick McCloughlin said the move would protect passengers from large increases on some routes.
Southeastern train. Library picture
"By capping fares we are protecting passengers from large rises at a time when family incomes are already being squeezed," he said.
"We will need to wait for the rail industry to calculate individual ticket prices for next year but this cap could save some commuters as much as £200 a year."
Rail operator Southeastern welcomed the announcement.
A spokesman said: "Southeastern along with all train operators welcomes the reduction in flex. It's the government that sets the average increase in regulated fares. This is good news for our passengers."
While average fares will still go up by 4.1% in January, train operators will now only be able to increase individual fares by a further 2%, rather than 5%.
A system introduced by the last government had allowed even greater rises to be introduced on busy routes, as long as firms cut fares on less well-used ones.
In Kent, as in other areas, that meant Southeastern was able to increase fares by as much as 9%.
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless gave a cautious welcome to the news.
He said: "It is a sensible step in the right direction, but there is much more to do.
"We have already brought increases on fares down from RPI plus 3% to RPI plus 1% and eventually to below inflation. But narrowing the flex range should bring some good news for rail users."
Tonbridge and Malling MP Sir John Stanley said: "It is a move in the right direction but not as far as I hoped.
"I do not think rail fares should be increasing above the rate of inflation and preferably should be lower, against the backdrop of year-on-year significant real terms increases for rail users in the south east."
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