Rail ticket prices rises branded 'a total insult'

First published in Countywide by

A DECISION to increase the price of some rail commuters’ season tickets way above the average rise has been branded a “total insult”.

Chiltern Railways announced season tickets from Bicester and Banbury to London will rise by 9.2 per cent, the maximum allowed, from January 2.

The cost of a 12-month season ticket from Banbury will go up from £5,476 to £5,976, an extra £436. A six-month ticket will go from £3,154.20 to £3,442.20.

A 12-month season ticket from Bicester to London will rise £436 from £4,760 to £5,196.

A season ticket from Oxford to London has gone up 4.2 per cent from £4,348 to £4,532.

The Chancellor’s autumn statement said regulated fares could rise by an average of 4.2 per cent, one per cent above inflation, in 2013 and 2014.

This means the operator can charge increases of between 0.8 and 9.2 per cent, as long as its average increase is 4.2 per cent.

But Cherwell Rail Users Group chairman Chris Bates said: “Any rise in excess of inflation in times of austerity is unjust. A rise of over double the rate of inflation is a total insult to customers.

“Chiltern are simply ripping off their customers who have no other realistic way of getting to their place of work.”

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Chiltern’s website says its average increase is 3.5 per cent, “significantly lower than the average industry increase of 3.9 per cent”. Commercial director Thomas Ableman said the firm had to consider “the long-term viability of the franchise”.

He said: “We understand that fare increases are hard. The costs of running our train service are not covered by the fares we receive from passengers.”

First Great Western Oxford-to-London season tickets will rise 4.2 per cent, taking a 12-month ticket from £4,348 to £4,532.

It comes after criticism of Chiltern timetable changes that took effect on Sunday. It replaced two non-stop morning services with two that stop at Bicester North.

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