Rail fares increase more than the inflation rate

COMMUTERS and rail passengers have been hit with big fare rises as National Express increases prices for 2011.

Passengers who use services across Suffolk face a 5.9 per cent average increase in fares, more than the rate of inflation. The new fares came into effect at the weekend.

Commuters from Stowmarket who use the London line will have to pay £260 more a year for an annual season ticket. The ticket will cost £5,400 for 2011 compared to last year’s price of £5,140 – a 5.1 per cent increase.

The price of an anytime return ticket has increased by 5 per cent, from £71.20 to £74.90, and an off peak return has risen from £32.90 to £35.50 – a 7.9 per cent increase.

Fares from Bury St Edmunds to Cambridge have also increased, with an anytime day return rising by 7.9 per cent to £12.20 from £11.30, and an off peak day return going up by 7 per cent from £8.50 to £9.10.

A spokesman for National Express East Anglia said: “These increases reflect Government policy in helping to sustain continued investment in the railways. Most fares will increase around the 5.9 per cent average although some variations above or below this figure for certain fares.

“We continue to offer a wide range of good value fares for off-peak and commuter journeys.”

Ross Taylor, from Mid Anglia Rail Passengers Association, said: “Some people will moan about it but I think realistically people understand that if they want to see continued investment in the railway somebody has got to pay for it. But we want to see a reliable, punctual service with clean trains.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see the fares go up but we want a better service so somebody has got to pay for it. I suppose people will just grin and bear it, and put their hands a bit deeper in their pockets.”

Dr Alexandra Woodsworth, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ”People are being priced off the railways and some are paying up to a fifth of the average salary. There is a lot of public anger out there.” The group launched its Fair Fares Now campaign on Tuesday.