Are train fares fair?

TRAIN users in Ipswich pay some of the steepest rail fares in the country, it can be revealed today.

TRAIN users in Ipswich pay some of the steepest rail fares in the country, it can be revealed today.

New research shows that £10 spent on a saver return for a 'one' railways service allows 52 miles of travel - making the operator the fourth most expensive out of 22 in the UK for this kind of ticket.

Only the Heathrow Express (27 miles for £10), Gatwick Express (37 miles for £10), and Hull Trains (49 miles for £10) are more pricey.

The best value for money is offered by Merseyrail on which people can travel 118 miles for £10, more than twice the distance as 'one' railways.

Kathy Pollard, Liberal Democrat group leader at Suffolk County Council, has called for an inquiry into rail pricing claiming the system needs to be changed.

She said: “People in Suffolk are paying for rail tickets which are among the most expensive in the UK, yet we're constantly faced with delays and poor quality service.

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“Rail companies should look at introducing more flexible rail fares, to take account of how people travel within the UK.

“There is clearly a huge price disparity between the cheapest and most expensive fares.”

The number of miles a person can travel for £10 was worked out by averaging one short, one medium and one long distance journey with each of the operators.

For 'one' railways a journey from London Liverpool Street to Stansted, London Liverpool Street to Ipswich and London Liverpool Street to Norwich were used.

Peter Meades from 'one' said the rail industry had not charged passengers by the mile for many years - the quality of the service varied dramatically between InterCity trains on the route from London to Ipswich and Norwich and the commuter services around Merseyside.

He said: “The saver fares are regulated by the government so we can only put them up by an amount agreed by ministers.

“There are also advance purchase tickets which are considerably cheaper - starting at £6 one-way and they are proving increasingly popular.”

A spokeswoman for official rail watchdog said: “Less than a third of 'one' passengers are satisfied that they get good value for money.

“This is in comparison with the national average of 40 per cent of passengers satisfied. This is not good enough.

“Passenger Focus has raised concerns about steep increases in unregulated fares with the Office of Rail Regulation and the DfT.

“While there are some good deals to be had if you are able to book ahead, we want to ensure that those passengers who want turn up at the train station for immediate travel are able to afford a train ticket.”

N Do you think 'one' delivers value for money with its rail service? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail