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Rail fares in Kent to increase by 3.1% next year

By Paul Francis

Hard-pressed rail commuters will see fares rise by an average of 3.1% next year, train bosses confirmed today.

The announcement from the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail companies, will be unwelcome news for thousands of season ticket holders.

Rail users in Kent already pay some of the highest prices for season tickets, mainly due to the high-speed services.

Rail travellers will face an average 3.1% increase in fares next year
Rail travellers will face an average 3.1% increase in fares next year

The increase will add an average of more than £100 to many commuters’ annual season tickets.

Fares rose at the start of this year by 3.4%

Commuters in the county have been quick to voice their disapproval.

Josh Dalton from Maidstone tweeted: "Rail prices are increasing 3.1% but in the last 3 weeks (15 days, my train has been on time once)."

Richard Gomez-Lee from Rochester quipped: "Definitely an inverse relationship between rail fares and my service satisfaction over the past seven years but hey cannot wait for this to miraculously change next year."

Sam Waters from Whitstable tweeted: "This is a disgrace, this puts my ticket up by £176 and my commute home from London has been completely awful since the May timetable change. The government need to step in here."

The rise is regulated by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments and is predominantly capped at July's RPI figure, which was 3.2%.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train companies and Network Rail, said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel, especially those who experienced significant disruption earlier this year.

“Money from fares is underpinning the improvements to the railway that passengers want and which ultimately help boost the wider economy. That means more seats, extra services and better connections right across the country.”

Darren Shirley, the chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Rail passengers have endured enough this year, with botched timetable changes and delays to their journeys which led to the worst punctuality figures for 12 years.

“The government should introduce a fares freeze from January. Any future fare increases should be based on the consumer price index rather than an outdated and discredited measure of inflation. Rail travel should be affordable so passengers aren’t left struggling with the cost of their commute.”

The new fares will take effect from January.

A Southeastern spokesman said: “We understand that no one likes to see prices go up, especially our season ticket holders.

"We keep fare increases to a minimum and have frozen unregulated advance fares at January 2018 prices – these can now be purchased at ticket offices, making our cheapest fares more widely available.

“The government regulates annual fare increases, primarily season tickets, to meet the costs of running and upkeep of Britain’s railways.

"Just two pence of every pound from train fares is profit – the rest goes back into the rail industry for running, maintaining and improving the network.

"For unregulated fares – including off-peak travel – we offer discounted ticket prices, special offers and promotional fares.

“We are committed to making journeys better for passengers and have invested over £78m in improving train services and station facilities over the past three years, refurbishing a third of our train fleet and providing better quality information to help people with their journeys. We are also part way through a deep clean of our train fleet.

“In addition, we have taken on 300 extra frontline staff to assist passengers, invested £5m in repainting and revamped all 165 of the stations we manage.”

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