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Huge fare rises because of franchise merger – Labour

Season tickets between London to Brighton line will rise by £664, or 18%, Labour has claimed, because of the effects of standardising fares across previously separate franchises and new conditions imposed as part of the contracts.

According to research carried out by the shadow transport team, the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) mega-franchise under Govia, which started operations yesterday, will eliminate cheaper fares that were available on some First Capital Connect (FCC) services.

FCC ran several slower Thameslink trains for which tickets were cheaper than on faster services – it is these fares that will be eliminated, as a condition of the new franchise. Ministers have not confirmed a timeline for this.

The Labour Party says an annual season ticket between Brighton and London will rise 18% from £3,640 to £4,304, costing passengers an extra £664 a year. The party also claim some day fares will increase as much as 74%, with an off-peak day return from Brighton to London rising by £12.10 from £16.40 to £28.50.

Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “David Cameron has allowed rail companies to hit commuters with inflation-busting fare hikes of more than 20% since 2010, and his government’s plans for secret fare rises in the southeast will leave commuters hundreds of pounds out of pocket.”

Transport Minister Claire Perry said: “When we move from two operators to one on the line, as part of a better franchise deal providing new trains and better services, fares will be gradually equalised. This will be carefully managed to ensure commuters travelling on the discounted First Capital Connect-only fare do not face sharp fare rises. 

Passenger Focus, the group which represents rail passengers, said it was right that fares be simplified but that the public should not be penalised in doing so.

RTM asked Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

(Image: c. Yui Mok/PA Wire)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Nonsuchmike   17/10/2014 at 15:20

This must be the Morton's Fork downside of an improved service with extra passenger seats brought when you combine franchises (restricting choice) with profits not returnable to the people/Government but only to Directors as bonuses and shareholders as dividends. If this is all or partly true, of course; but past experience tells us that there is no smoke without fire re the upward spiral of ticket costs. A better marketing ploy, surely, would be to cut season ticket costs by, say, between 7% & 10% on all routes over 25 miles and by a lesser amount: say 4 - 6% for journeys within that radius of the Charing Cross in central London. I await with baited breath for the TOC and franchise that will invoke this bold reduction for their customers with the risk that passenger numbers will more than compensate for the individual price falls. The effect on your companies' potential earnings, Messrs Directors, can only be positive.

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