Bad news for Essex commuters today as it was announced that rail fares are going up by an average of 5.9% across the UK next year. In a time when people are having to tighten their belts to make ends meet this comes as bad news indeed. Some annual fares can rise by up to £252.
An annual season ticket from Chelmsford to London Liverpool Street currently costs £3,260. However, from January the annual season ticket will rise to £3,420, an increase of £160.00. If you are travelling in from Colchester the increase is from £4,140 to £4,376, an increase of £236. For those travelling in from Clacton, tickets will rise from £4,500 to £4,752, an increase of £252.
With many salaries remaining on hold and reductions in bonuses, increases in petrol costs, parking fees, food bills and utility bills, 2012 is going to prove to be another hard year for many people.
Inflation in the UK is currently at around 5% which although extremely high for the UK is still lower than the increases we have seen in rail fares.
Michael Roberts from the Association of Train Operating Companies tried to justify the huge increases by explaining that the fare increases pays for new trains, faster services and better stations. The government strategy on rail services is to reduce the burden on the tax payer and increase the fees of those travelling on the lines. Rail users pay for the trains, not tax payers.
Of course, if you have travelled on the commuter line in Essex recently you will probably be laughing at the idea of better, faster, newer trains. The last time I travelled (last week) my train was delayed and the carriage was old 1970’s stock, the seats uncomfortable and falling apart. The only noticeable changes to the station is a Costa Coffee, which I somehow doubt the train ticket is paying for!
Are these rail fare increases a total rip off? How does it affect you? Let us know!