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Rail merger comes under scrutiny

PUBLISHED: 18:20 28 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:55 02 March 2010

RAIL pressure groups and passengers can claim victory today as the newly formed rail group One has come under the spotlight.

One's parent company National Express, which has taken over the running of rail services in the region, now faces scrutiny by the Competition Commission.

RAIL pressure groups and passengers can claim victory today as the newly formed rail group One has come under the spotlight.

One's parent company National Express, which has taken over the running of rail services in the region, now faces scrutiny by the Competition Commission.

The move comes after The Evening Star yesterday highlighted how the transport giant merged the old Anglia, Great Eastern and West Anglia routes leaving customers to pick up the costs amid huge fare hikes.

Price increases, that came into effect last Sunday with the introduction of the new summer timetable, sparked an angry response from travellers and rail pressure groups.

The changes saw the cost of a ticket for some journeys more than double as differentials between Anglia and Great Eastern were abolished.

The Rail Passengers' Council (RPC) for Eastern England raised concerns about the fare changes - and warned the government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) about them before One took over the franchise.

Guy Dangerfield, RPC regional director, said: "I don't think they'll make a big change now, but pressure from ourselves, passengers, and the media might make them ease up to some extent.

"And I would not be surprised if they come up with some very attractive promotional fares to win back passengers after this summer's tunnel closure."

The operator One said the fare alterations reflected the merging of the three rail companies.

National Express group's chief executive Phil White said: "We are very disappointed at the Office of Fair Trading's decision to refer our acquisition of the Greater Anglia rail franchise to the Competition Commission.

"We will be reviewing the detail of this decision and its implications whilst considering our position."

The merger meant that the cheap family travelcard from Ipswich - allowing a family of four to travel to London for £40 - was abolished.

Other stations are also affected - the £11 Anglia Railways day return ticket from Manningtree to the capital was discontinued.

What do you think? Have you been affected by the rail fare increases? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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