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Khan calls for DfT to freeze London rail fares to avoid 5% price rise

Fares on suburban London rail services should be frozen, London mayor Sadiq Khan said as he warned that fares could rise by as much as 5% from January.

Rail fares across the UK are expected to increase by 1.9% in January 2017, but a government loophole means train operators can instead choose to increase fares by 10p for every journey.

Last year, all train companies operating in London chose the 10p increase. If they do the same this year, it would mean fare increases across the network, including 5% for peak time fares from Charlton to Greenwich, 3.6% from Hayes to Catford, and 2.6% from Beckenham Junction to London Victoria.

Khan said: “It’s another kick in the teeth for long suffering rail passengers. The government should say enough is enough, and make these train operating companies match my TfL fares freeze fares on London’s suburban rail lines next year.”

The mayor has fulfilled his campaign pledge to freeze all pay as you go TfL fares for four years, although he was criticised when it emerged that the freeze would not apply to travel cards.

He said that the freeze would help “protect Londoners” if prices rise next year as a result of Brexit. He added that the freeze would also apply to suburban rail services if they were taken over by TfL, which he is currently seeking to secure.

Lianna Etkind of Campaign for Better Transport backed the call for a fares freeze and said the government should introduce a “long-term plan” to devolve suburban London rail services to TfL.

“Passengers using suburban rail services in London and the south east, especially those on Southern, are extremely angry at having to pay thousands of pounds a year to use trains which are consistently late, cancelled or overcrowded,” she said.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling recently rejected Khan’s proposal for TfL to immediately take over the troubled Southern franchise from parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

Southern passengers have suffered extensive delays and cancellations this year. In a recent report on the franchise, the Transport Select Committee said the government should give a “clear and credible threat” to strip GTR of the franchise if it cannot meet its contractual obligations.

Responding to Khan's comments, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “London has a public transport network to be proud of and we have committed further investment to improve journeys and boost capacity with the multi-billion pound Thameslink and Crossrail programmes.

“Wages are growing faster than train ticket prices thanks to action by the Government. Most commuter fares from London are regulated, and these have been capped in line with inflation until 2020.”

(Image c. John Stillwell from PA Wire and PA Images)

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James Palma   07/11/2016 at 17:37

Yeah, nice idea to freeze fares. He did this for TFL services and projects that would benefit passengers in the long term are now being suspended and even cancelled. This is because TFL cannot afford to do them. I wish politicians would think long term. The cancelling of these projects may not have a short term affect, but they will be noticeable in years to come, but by then it will be someone elses problem. Good thinking.

Joel   09/11/2016 at 14:05

Why should rail investment only be paid for by passengers? In neo-classical economics (a throwback to 1960s schooldays), transport is an 'instrument of derived demand', ie only sad ***s like me travel on it for fun, the rest for a journey purpose such as going to work, shops or leisure. Those places benefit from peoples' ability to travel and they should be contributing to rail upgrade and maintenance, as should the businesses benefitting from the London Night Tube. Stop requiring passengers to pay for everything when their journey purpose is for the benefit of others too - this unfair burden needs to be more equitably shared. And - every fare rise is a pay cut, unless income rises equitably to match travel costs, which it can't as different people travel for different employers and/or purposes. Economic facts of life...

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