Rail passengers reacted with dismay yesterday to the news that fare increases have pushed the cost of an annual season ticket from Tunbridge Wells to London through the £4,500 barrier.
The 3.6 per cent rise announced Tuesday by the Rail Delivery Group adds an extra £160 to the annual cost taking a ticket to £4,644 from £4,484. The national average is 3.4 per cent.
This means the journey remains one of the most expensive commuter routes in the country. Even before the latest rise a commuter making a return journey five days a week, excluding 25 days annual leave and Bank Holidays, would spend 31 pence per mile travelled.
An annual season ticket from Tonbridge to London will cost £4,232 in 2018, up from £4,088.
All regulated and unregulated fares will go up by 3.6 per cent on Southeastern services from January 2, except advance ticket fares which will be frozen.
This means the average Southeastern fare increase for 2018 is 3.3 per cent, 0.1 per cent lower than the national average of 3.4 per cent – the biggest rise since 2013.
Regulated fares – which cover season and peak time tickets – are set by the Government. The 2018 increase on these fares was capped at this July’s Retail Price Index inflation rate.
Unregulated fares, which include off-peak tickets, are controlled by train companies.
Commuter Naomi Nash described the increase as “ridiculous” on the Times Facebook page.
She said: “If the cost reflected the service I wouldn’t have a problem. But all too often they run late or short formed so you have to stand for 50 mins.
“And you can only claim compensation if you are delayed by more than 30 mins however if you are a parent then being delayed 5-25 minutes can have a massive effect for you! Salaries do not rise every year for a lot of people yet the season ticket does!”
Isabella Beeler commented: “This is one of the reasons I decided to work for a local company. Commuting to London is so expensive and not all the times the salaries are raised accordingly.”
John Adams said: “Well, there’ll almost certainly be a general election in the new year, so if you really want a rail service that actually operates in the interests of its passengers, then you know who to vote for!”
Luke Jaspar Jones added: “If I asked for a 3.4% pay rise and was late every day, do you think I would get it?”
John Morton, Secretary at Tonbridge Line Commuters, said: “Given that commuters from West Kent already pay some of the highest prices per mile in the UK, people are effectively being priced off the railway.”
A spokesperson for Southeastern said: “We understand that no one likes to see prices go up, especially season ticket holders.”
“Southeastern remains committed to making journeys better for passengers and has invested over £78m to improve train services and station facilities.”