Commuters are paying hundreds of pounds more to park at local railway stations after Southeastern raised prices by up to 10 per cent.
The franchise holder has been criticised for introducing the hike this month after rail season ticket prices also rose by around 3.6 per cent at the turn of the year.
A one year ticket for Monday to Friday access at Tonbridge railway station car park will now cost £1,276, a 9.09 per cent increase from the £1,160 it was last year.
A rail season ticket from Tonbridge to London today costs £4,232 (up from £4,088) which means commuters from Kent’s busiest station are now paying more than £5,500 a year just to get to work if they pay for parking and that does not include including petrol costs.
In Tunbridge Wells the main car park will cost £1,124.60 (up from £1,071), High Brooms costs £940.80 (£896) and Hildenborough £1,126.70 (£1,073).
All of these stations and Frant have seen their car park price rise by 4.7 per cent a year, significantly less than Tonbridge.
John Reynolds, Chairman of pressure group Tonbridge Line Commuters, said: “It is another burden on people who are already struggling with expensive train fares.
“The rate for Tonbridge is just under 10 per cent, which is way over inflation. It is a massive increase and way over the top.”
Southeastern confirmed the price change and said income is reinvested into passenger services, commenting ‘supply of spaces is kept in line with demand’.
The Times understands purchasing a ticket does not guarantee a car park space. There are 837 spaces at Tonbridge and 79 at Tunbridge Wells although it is believed more tickets are actually sold.
Mr Reynolds continued: “The problem is that Tonbridge and Hildenborough, two of the places with the most substantial price increase, have the largest catchment areas.
“They seem to be picking on Tonbridge and they forget there are poorer people in the area and for some there is no usable bus service to a station.
“They are under a delusion that people in Tonbridge are very rich.
“This goes alongside rising rail ticket fares which I think should be measured by the Consumer Price Index, rather than the Retail Price Index.”
The cheapest station to park at, by some way, is Frant at £672 a year where a rail ticket to London for 12 months is £4,644.
But while the total car park plus rail ticket price works out as less expensive than Tunbridge Wells or Tonbridge the reduced train service may put off some commuters.
A Southeastern spokesman said: “When we review our commercial arrangements we always take into account the demand for limited parking space and local parking conditions, and ensure that our car parks are competitive with other local facilities.”
|Frant||Tunbridge Wells (Main)**||High Brooms||Tonbridge||Hildenborough|
|Number of car park spaces||106||79||47||837||265|
|Season ticket (2017 price)||£672
* Weekly tickets can also be bought. Tickets cover cost of parking on Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays a separate daily charge applies.
** A limited number of tickets can also be bought for Torrington Road Car Park in Tunbridge Wells.