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Ipswich MP seeks to end anomaly that pushes up London rail ticket costs

PUBLISHED: 20:00 15 October 2018

Sandy Martin sets off by train for his first day at Westminster - now he is calling for Ipswich travellers to get a better fares deal. Picture: JACK ABBOTT

Sandy Martin sets off by train for his first day at Westminster - now he is calling for Ipswich travellers to get a better fares deal. Picture: JACK ABBOTT

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Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has called on the government to end an anomaly that keeps rail fares from Ipswich higher than other stations with commuters to London.

Sandy Martin is calling for rail fares from Ipswich to be cut. Picture: NEIL PERRYSandy Martin is calling for rail fares from Ipswich to be cut. Picture: NEIL PERRY

He put down an adjournment debate at the end of business in the House of Commons on Monday and used it to call for Ipswich to be moved into the “south east Network” of stations.

That would cut the price of day return tickets and simplify the options available for passengers – at present the Network ends at Manningtree.

Mr Martin hoped this would be addressed in the review of rail fares currently underway – but that could take two years and he wanted to see action now.
He said while Ipswich (69 miles from Liverpool Street) was outside the Network area, Kings Lynn (97 miles from Kings Cross), Worcester (120 miles from Paddington) and even Exeter (172 miles from Waterloo) were in the south east.

It is possible to buy Network tickets from Manningtree to London and separate tickets from Ipswich to Manningtree – which give a good saving, especially at weekends – but Mr Martin said this was absurdly bureaucratic and some passengers did not like splitting their tickets.

Another benefit would be that holders of Network Railcards – which give a one third saving on off-peak journeys in the south east – could use them to get all the way to Ipswich.

Mr Martin told the Commons: “The Network Railcard area is a complete mystery to me. I do realise that if there is going to be a network railcard, there needs to be a network railcard area, and that the line has to be drawn somewhere. I just wish it wasn’t drawn in a way which so gratuitously disadvantages Ipswich.

“Ipswich is the final stop for stopping trains on the Great Eastern main line. If a line has to be drawn, it is nonsensical to draw it just BEFORE one reaches the destination of the commuter trains it has been created to facilitate.”

The Network boundaries are set by the rail industry, not individual companies. A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said: “We support a review of the fares system, as part of a wider rail review.

“The fares structure should suit current needs and travel patterns, with the flexibility to offer choices which attract new customers and suit local markets.”

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