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Spalding passengers hit by new hike in rail fares

It costs more to travel by train. SG011117-118TW
It costs more to travel by train. SG011117-118TW

Train passengers were this week hit by a fare rise of more than three per cent, the biggest in five years.

The financial blow comes as Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum chairman George Scott claims fare rises over the last few years have led to no “significant” service improvements.

And the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for re-nationalisation of the railways while revealing Midlands commuters pay up to 11 per cent of average salaries on fares while similar commutes on the continent range from two per cent in France to five per cent in Spain and Belgium.

Mr Scott said: “Yes, fares have increased once again, as we are a rural service we were trying to encourage new rail users onto the trains to relieve our road congestion.

“We have a few problems with our services at present, mainly we are a seven day a week working community with no train service on a Sunday and a limited service on a Saturday.

“There has been no significant service improvements over the last few years despite fare increases.

“As far as re-nationalisation goes, it would be great if the services were going to improve but no one can tell and we are always promised improvements in the future.

“There certainly needs to be a shake-up to realise what the travelling public want and expect for their money and, yes, being a low wage area it hits us more than most. People are having to travel further to get a living wage but high rail fares do not help.

“There also needs to be a determined effort to connect us via other branch lines as to go to Birmingham it takes the same time as by car as do other places.”

The Government set the fare rise in line with July’s Retail Price Index at 3.6 per cent, but East Midlands Trains set a lower average increase of 3.3 per cent.

East Midlands Trains describe themselves as “the UK’s most punctual long-distance train operator for over eight years” and says the company continues to invest in improvements for customers.

The company’s managing director, Jane Kelly, said: “As well as helping to fund the biggest national investment in the railways since Victorian times through increased payments to Government, the money from fares is also helping to drive many real improvements for customers across the East Midlands Trains network.”

Rail companies claim 97p in every £ is ploughed back into the industry but TUC Midlands regional secretary Lee Barron says the Government needs to take the railways back into private hands to “stop hundreds of millions being siphoned off by private rail firms” and to put passengers first.

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