Tonbridge MP says promise to cap rail fares is STILL not good enough
By kentsussex | Tuesday, October 09, 2012, 10:27
Tonbridge MP Sir John Stanley has welcomed the news the government is to cap an increase in rail fares for Kent travellers to one per cent - plus the rate of inflation - for the next two years.
But he said he wanted the government to go even further in helping cash-strapped commuters.
He told Kent Online: 'My view is that the increase in rail fares should only be at the rate of inflation and preferably below it, given that over a number of years there has been a year-by-year increase for huge numbers of people.
'This is one of the inescapable facts of life for people who live in Kent and work in London - you have to pay what they charge.'
A 3% was announced in the summer and was due to come into effect next January.
But it sparked outrage, and so Prime Minister David Cameron this week said the government is to cap an increase to 1% - plus the rate of inflation - for the next two years.
But it still means some fares could still rise by more than 8%.
This is because the formula lets firms put up some fares by a further 5% so long as it is balanced by cuts in others.
That option has been retained, but because the cap will apply to peak time services, there are fears off-peak travellers will be hit harder.
Sir John added: "As far as I am concerned, I want Southeastern to go no further than the rate of inflation plus 1%."
The Department for Transport said: "The decision to reduce the planned increases, funded from savings identified in the DfT's budget, will benefit hard-pressed commuters and passengers.
"In future years, the DfT will look to absorb the costs by reprioritising within existing budgets."
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "We welcome the news the government has reduced the price increase to RPI plus 1%.
"For hard pressed passengers who rely on the train, especially those who don't have the option to change the times they travel to take advantage of cheaper options, this will be a relief."
He added: "However, the result is still a big increase in regulated fares. Passengers in the UK already pay some of the highest fares in Europe and our most recent passenger survey showed that just 42% felt they had got value for money on their ticket."