Rail passengers across the country – including those using popular Home Counties routes – are facing the highest increases in a generation, at a time when many people’s salaries are failing to keep pace with inflation.
The biggest season ticket hikes are being imposed by Southeastern, which carries 120,000 commuters a day into central London from East Sussex and Kent.
Commuters travelling to St Pancras from Hastings, Rye and Tonbridge will have to find £5,192 a year – equivalent to a fifth of the national average salary.
This is the first time that any standard class season tickets in the South East have broken through the £5,000 milestone.
The Government allowed Southeastern to push up fares by an average of 7.8 per cent – three per cent above July’s Retail Price Index. But this masked higher increases approaching 13 per cent on some routes.
Southeastern’s commuters are being hit especially hard because they are expected to pay for the introduction of 140mph Javelin high speed trains on part of the route – whether or not they use the trains.
Southeastern’s fare rises are particularly sensitive, given the company’s abject performance when the rail network was hit by snow and ice last week.
In the 28 days up to December 11 nearly 30 per cent of Southeastern’s trains were either cancelled or ran late.
Nevertheless it refused to compensate annual and monthly season ticket holders insisting it was still set to meet overall performance targets.
While the worst pain is being suffered on Southeastern, several other popular commuting destinations will hit or top £4,000 for the first time, including Colchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
The annual increase in commuter fares is controlled by the Government.
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