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Southeastern Regulated Train Fares highest average increase in UK - official

January 2, 2009 4:48 PM

Train Approaching London Bridge StationOfficial figures show that Southeastern Trains 8% average rise in regulated fares in 2009 is the highest of any operator in the country. The rise has been slammed by passenger groups such as Passenger Focus, who say the fare increases were set in the summer when inflation was much higher than it is now.

Shepway Lib Dem Councillor Tim Prater has slammed the high increases. He said:

"We should be encouraging increased train use by holding fares as steady as possible, especially at a time of real financial hardship that we seem to be facing.

"Southeastern try to justify their rises by pointing at the high speed rail link that will open in December 2009 - but on that line, they will be charging MORE for tickets. It's not that we're paying now for a better service later - we're paying now, AND we'll pay later.

"The new high-speed services will be good for Folkestone and Shepway, but to make the most of them, we need realistic fares to encourage people to use them. We need early and effective investment in developing even more parking - at a cost people will pay - at Folkestone West train station. The new bays just installed are empty much of the time as people refuse to pay the new parking charges and park instead on already overstretched local roads: hardly joined up thinking.

And there must be a fair fare alternative for those who still want to travel into London via London Bridge or Charing Cross. Shiny new fast trains will be no good if passengers cannot afford to use them."

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive said:

"Many passengers will shudder and shiver when they find out the scale of some New Year fare rises. Average rises for regulated fares are 6%, unregulated 7% but inflation is currently well below this. Fare rises that hark back to a time of high inflation and spiralling energy costs look very out of kilter."

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