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Dartford MP 'not standing up' for commuters over train ticket price hike, Labour leader warns

PUBLISHED: 14:46 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:47 15 August 2017

Southeastern train

Southeastern train

Archant

The 3.6 per cent hike was announced today

A forecast hike in rail fares has sparked fury from passengers, with Dartford’s Labour leader accusing the borough’s MP of ‘not standing up’ for commuters.

In the new year, ticket prices are expected to rise by 3.6 per cent, in line with inflation.

The rise has been blasted by rail watchdog Transport Focus, which said: “While performance remains patchy and with pay and wages not keeping pace with inflation, passengers will feel rightly aggrieved if they are paying much higher rises next January.”

Dartford’s MP Gareth Johnson said he was “not surprised” the hike had faced backlash, but ultimately defended it, calling it a “far cry from the 11 per cent increase we saw in the final year of the Labour government.”

Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes said passengers were getting a “bad deal”.

Cllr Hawkes added: “Fares have increased 27 per cent since 2010 and a further 3.6 per cent hike makes rail travel even more expensive and poor value for money.

“Dartford’s Conservative MP has not stood up for rail passengers in our town.

“Not only do we need a new operator of our rail services, but a whole new system.

“We urge the government to look again at the proposal from the mayor of London to run commuter services in and out of Dartford, so we can improve services and provide better value for money for passengers whose concerns have simply been forgotten by this Conservative government.”

Passengers around Dartford and Gravesham typically use Southeastern trains, but hopes of its suburban services being taken over by Transport for London were dashed last year by transport secretary Chris Grayling, who did not believe proposals would improve the service.

A spokesperson for the rail firm said: “We understand no one likes to see prices go up, especially season ticket holders.

“However, the government regulates annual fare increases to meet the costs of running Britain’s railways.

“Nearly 97p of every pound from train fares goes back into the rail industry for running and improving the network.

“Southeastern remains committed to making journeys better for passengers and has invested over £70m to improve train services and station facilities.”

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