Rail boss makes fares pledge

RAIL passengers in East Anglia should not see inflation-busting fare increases as a result of a change in government policy, an industry boss claimed today.

RAIL passengers in East Anglia should not see inflation-busting fare increases as a result of a change in government policy, an industry boss claimed today.

But there are likely to be more incentives to encourage passengers to use off-peak services on the main-line to London over the next few years.

There was an outcry this week when it was revealed that new franchise agreements for cross-country and east Midlands services required the new rail operators to increase fares by 30 per cent above inflation rates by 2015.

The government has imposed the conditions to help cut the subsidy paid to rail operators by the Department for Transport.

However 'one' head of corporate affairs Jonathan Denby said his company's fares were regulated by different conditions.

He said: “When we were awarded our franchise in 2004 the conditions were not the same as those imposed on the current round of franchises.

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“Our fares are governed by the agreement we signed three years ago and the franchise now runs until 2011 or 2014 so there will be no major increases so far as we are concerned.”

But Mr Denby said the company was aware there was a need to pitch fares at the right level - which could mean more differential fares.

He said: “There is no point in offering cheap fares at busy times because people who have paid substantial amounts of money to travel at the peak don't want to find people with cheap tickets sitting in their seats.”

The company had found that offering off-peak tickets to London for as little as £6 from Ipswich one-way had attracted many more passengers on to off-peak services.

“There have always been different fares at different times of the day, and that is something that is likely to develop in the years ahead,” Mr Denby said.

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