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Rail ticket prices rise by more than four per cent
RAIL passengers in Dorset have started the new year by stumping up more than four per cent extra for the average ticket.
Fares on South West Trains rose by an average of 4.1 per cent from yesterday, with passengers asked to pay a larger share of the cost of improving the rail network.
Peter Scott, chief executive of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “I am disappointed that the media refer to the fare increases as ‘inflation busting’; they are inflation causing. “Not only do the above-inflation increases hit the travelling public where it hurts hardest – in their pockets – but will the trains be faster, more reliable, less crowded, and cleaner? Until the answer to all of those is yes, then I remain sceptical as to the justification for the increases.”
Bournemouth East Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said the government needed to better explain the need for above-inflation fare rises.
“This is almost a decade where we’ve had these above-inflation increases and therefore the public is quite right to ask why this is the case,” he said.
“There’s an awful lot of investment in infrastructure which is less obvious to the public eye. It’s simple to say the fares are going up and it’s very understandable to say more people are using trains so those trains are going to be overcrowded and are becoming expensive as well.
“But what’s also happening is that there’s the biggest programme of investment since the 19th century in our infrastructure that’s being met by increases from the public.”
He said there was an increasing gap between the bargain fares that could be picked up in advance and the cost of turning up and buying a ticket.
Tim Shoveller, managing director of the South West Trains/Network Rail Alliance, said: “Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger.
“The government’s policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train. We know that nobody likes paying more for their travel, especially to get to work. That’s why we are working hard with the rest of the rail industry to make the system more cost-efficient and help take the pressure off future fare rises. At the same time, we are investing in our trains and stations to deliver a better railway for our customers.”