Rail commuters face new year price hike

RAIL commuters in Harborough face an average four per cent increase in fares from January 2, East Midlands Trains (EMT) has announced.

The cost of a single journey will rise by an average of 52p.

The price hike follows a 5.6 per cent increase introduced in January this year.

Harborough resident Steve Abbott, who is secretary of Travelwatch East Midlands and a member of the Harborough Rail Users group, said passenger numbers continue to rise despite the economic climate and above-inflation fare rises.

“In recent years Harborough has been seen as a ‘soft touch’ with rises at the top end of the permitted range, this time EMT are keeping most increases to around the 4.2 per cent average allowed on regulated fares, including season tickets.

“However, the peak time ticket to London will go up by more than five per cent and the cheapest London Day Travelcard will increase by over six per cent.

“But this ticket does still allow unlimited travel by all public transport within Greater London.”

Mr Abbott urged rail users to save money by planning their journeys in advance and travel off-peak on week days if possible.

He said: “For longer journeys look for cheaper advance tickets if you can commit to specific trains, and if you travel regularly consider a season ticket. If you only go to London at peak times twice-a-week a season ticket saves you money”.

Mr Abbot said the Harborough Rail Users group is pressing for the upgrading and electrification of the Midland Main Line to include improvements at platform level.

East Midlands Trains managing director David Horne 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.”

4 For fare details check www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk or www.nationalrail.co.uk. Get advice on the best value deals at www.atoc.org.