Rail ticket price hike protest gains support

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COMMUTERS are calling for a better train service at Spalding ahead of rise in train fares in January.

Demonstrations took place across the UK last week at the news some fares could jump by 11 per cent from the New Year, while most rush-hour travel, season tickets and off-peak fares will rise by well above the rate of inflation.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “If the government sticks by its policy, rail fares will rise three times faster than salaries.

“With the economy flat-lining, this is untenable.”

However, according to travellers from Spalding, investment is needed now to provide a service after 5pm.

Kelly Clarksonson (19), of Battlefields Lane, Holbeach, said it was a major operation for her to plan visits to her boyfriend in Grimsby.

She said: “There’s no service after 5pm so I have to fit my visits around work. The journey costs me £20 return instead of £30 with my rail card, but if the prices go up I’m really going to have to think about how often I use the trains.”

Mum-of-two Tara Shelton visits her sister in Spalding from Peterborough with her two children, Sam (5) and Max (2).

She said: “Coming by train has been a holiday treat, but I will be using the car if fares go up.”

Pensioner Geoff Parkinson (81) said he has no option but to use the trains.

He said: “It’s my only means of transport, so I’ll have to go with it.”

A spokesman for Stagecoach, which runs East Midlands Trains through Spalding, said the July Retail Price Index inflation figure determined regulated rail fares for 2013.

Emma Knight, senior group communications manager for Stagecoach, said: “We have recently completed a £30million refurbishment of our full train fleet which will benefit passengers travelling from Spalding. Other improvements include the installation of a new accessible ticket window at Spalding and Network Rail has also recently refurbished the station footbridge.

“Looking forward, we have plans in place to improve the toilets at the station and work will commence on this improvement scheme shortly.

“We continue to be the country’s most punctual long distance train operator and passenger satisfaction with our services remains high.”