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Rail hike outrage

PUBLISHED: 13:46 02 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:08 02 July 2010

PASSENGER groups and commuters slammed the crippling fare rises they faced on their return to work yesterday. The above inflation rises hit 11 per cent for some unregulated fares, with other prices including most season tickets, rising by an average of 4

PASSENGER groups and commuters slammed the crippling fare rises they faced on their return to work yesterday.

The above inflation rises hit 11 per cent for some unregulated fares, with other prices including most season tickets, rising by an average of 4.8 per cent.

Rail consumer watchdog Passenger Focus told the Kentish Times the rises were unjustified, saying passengers were furious with the New Year hikes.

Chief Executive Anthony Smith said: "A chill wind will blow down many of Britain's platforms when passengers find out their new fares. Steep rises on individual routes are masked by the average figures published by the industry.

"This will lead to passengers having to dig deep into their pockets. These unjustified and unfair rises will rankle."

He added: "Passengers irritation will be fuelled when they realise that one some routes where performance is poor fare rises have not only wiped out the discount they automatically receive when renewing their season tickets but actually put prices up."

An annual season ticket from Gillingham to London rose from £2,496 to £2,740, a 9.78 per cent increase.

The same from Canterbury to London was rising from £3,132 to £3,480, a whopping 11.11 per cent increase.

Operators maintain any rises are fare and were needed for improvement works, speaking fury amongst commuters in north Kent.

George Muir, director-general of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) said: "The revenue from fares helps pay for investment that directly benefits passengers.

"Billions of pounds are now being spent to improve the railway and the results are showing through."

Furious Louis Hall, 28, from Greenhithe, said: "They are having a laugh. I thought it was April Fools Day, not New Years Day when I heard about these rises.

"Only the other year I remember a report attacking the condition of stations that led to a big article in your paper.

"It is all well and good saying improvements are being made but that does not wash if you use Northfleet or Swasncombe station or they have not been noticed in your area.

"Many stations in north Kent have dirty underground corridors, graffiti, poor lighting and are generally a scary place to get a train after dark. It makes me laugh when there is so much regeneration in this area, with the Thames Gateway, but the busiest commuter service let's us down then charges us more.

"Greenhithe is not too bad but when I lived in Northfleet and used the station there it was hideous. The train services and stations should be on par and the prices should reflect this, which these rises don't."

Anthony Smith added: "Train companies that are not delivering a quality service should freeze their prices.

"Passengers who are not getting what they have paid for must complain to their train company so the message is received loud and clear.

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