Rail fares increase

LEISURE rail fares in East Anglia are set to go up by almost twice the level of inflation from the beginning of 2008, The Evening Star can reveal today.

LEISURE rail fares in East Anglia are set to go up by almost twice the level of inflation from the beginning of 2008, The Evening Star can reveal today.

But the cost for regular travellers with season tickets - and those who use “Saver” tickets should be pegged at a lower level.

Unregulated rail fares across the region are set to increase by an average of 6.8 per cent from the start of January.

These include tickets bought in advance and cheap day returns bought on the network.

However regulated fares, including season tickets, standard fares, and saver fares, will have their increase capped at 4.8pc - 1pc above the July inflation rate of 3.8pc.

That will mean an annual season ticket from Ipswich to London increasing from £4,640 to about £4,850 and a monthly season ticket going up by about £22 from its current £445.50.

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Peter Meades from rail company 'one' said the actual figures would be announced later - the percentage was an average across the company.

He said the rising cost of energy, coupled with the need for more investment, were the main reasons for the increases.

“We are not immune from the rising cost of fuel and electricity although modern trains are more efficient, and more people are being employed on stations and trains.

“There is also an ongoing programme of refurbishing and upgrading our trains - and that all has to be paid for.”

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said rail fares had not gone up as steeply as inflation generally over the last 10 years, and money was needed to invest in the network across the country.

The rises came under fire from rail union chief Gerry Doherty from the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSS). He said commuters would be paying above-inflation increases because government had given the green light for rail companies to rip off their customers.

"We should be investing in a not for profit railway instead of increasing profits for the rail companies and providing income for the Treasury,” he said.