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Rail fare hikes slammed as 'terrible news' by Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield

An MP has slammed the biggest hike in rail fares in nearly a decade as "terrible news" for Kent commuters.

The government has today revealed Britain’s train passengers are to be hit with an almost 4% rise in prices next year, sparking an angry response from Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield.

MP Rosie Duffield. Picture: Charlotte Cornell
MP Rosie Duffield. Picture: Charlotte Cornell

The 3.8% increase in ticket prices will take effect from March 1.

It will be the steepest rise since January 2013 according to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group, and will see the cost of an annual five-day-a-week season ticket from Canterbury West to St Pancras rise from £5,932 to £6,157.

Meanwhile, it will push the cost of a super-off-peak day return ticket between the two stations from £35.70 to more than £37.

Taking to Twitter this morning, Ms Duffield said: "This is terrible news for my constituents as so many of them have to commute every day - at a time when the cost of living is soaring!

"And it's hardly great for the planet if less people can afford to regularly use public transport!"

She shared a tweet from Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, Louise Haigh, which branded the rise in prices "brutal".

Hundreds of commuters travel from Canterbury West station each day
Hundreds of commuters travel from Canterbury West station each day

The tweet said: "This fare hike will be a nightmare before Christmas for millions of passengers."

Train fare increases are normally implemented on the first working day of every year, but have been delayed until March since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Delaying the changes until March 2022 offers people the chance to save money by renewing their fares at last year’s price.

“That includes the 100,000 people who are already making savings with cheaper and more convenient flexible season tickets.”

The DfT also announced its Book with Confidence scheme will be extended until March 31 2022.

This allows passengers to change their travel plans up until the night before departure, without being charged a fee, or cancel their tickets and receive a refund in the form of rail vouchers.

The 3.8% hike in fare prices is in line with July’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation.

Meanwhile, the current year’s rise in fares in England and Wales was based on the previous July’s RPI plus one percentage point.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP. Picture: Gov.uk
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP. Picture: Gov.uk

Andy Bagnall, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The Government’s decision to hold fares down in line with July’s inflation is welcome compared to last year’s above-inflation increase and the rate of inflation right now.

“It is important that fares are set at a level that will encourage more people to travel by train in the future, helping to support a clean and fair recovery from the pandemic.

“We know the railway must not take more than its fair share from the taxpayer, which is why the rail industry is working to create a financially sustainable and more passenger-focused service that will both keep costs down long-term and attract people back to the train.”

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