Commuters Facing Huge Increase In Train Fares

PUBLISHED: 17:45 20 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 04 May 2010

COMMUTERS are stomaching a huge increase in train fares on the congested Ely, Littleport and Cambridge route to London. On January 2, off peak return fares from Ely increased to £32, up 11.5 per cent on last year s prices, which prompted a group of MPs t

COMMUTERS are stomaching a huge increase in train fares on the congested Ely, Littleport and Cambridge route to London.

On January 2, off peak return fares from Ely increased to £32, up 11.5 per cent on last year's prices, which prompted a group of MPs to quiz managing director of train operator First Capital Connect, Elaine Holt.

Ms Holt blamed fare increases on hefty franchise premiums the company pays the Department of Transport - more than £800million last year. She insisted that expensive travel was not prompting rail commuters to jump in their cars.

Jim Paice, MP for South East Cambridgeshire questioned the logic of increasing fares in an economic downturn.

"Increases of this size are unacceptable at any time and especially with everyone tightening their belts at the present time," he said. "It is a huge extra cost, particularly when the trains are overfull."

Although the Government caps peak train fares, which cannot rise above the July 2008 retail price index of fiver per cent, commuters on the King's Lynn to King's Cross route are forced to stomach the most congested train journey in the country.

At a meeting with Ely councillors last year, plans were announced to upgrade the train line so it could carry more carriages at peak times, but no official timeframe was set for the work. An £80,000 rail traveller centre was opened at Cambridge station in September and there are plans to redevelop the Ely rail centre.

Stephen Joseph, executive director of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"Rail is the low-carbon way to travel but passengers are being priced off with above-inflation fare increases. At a time of recession, these increases are making life difficult for hard-working families.

"The Government's policy is to reduce its investment in the railways and make passengers pay more. Instead, it should invest more, regulate fares so they don't rise above inflation and make it easy for people to reduce their carbon footprint."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are you paying over the odds to travel to work, or tempted to use the cheaper option of a car? Email the editor at editor@ely-standard.co.uk or write to us at 38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs, CB7 4LS.

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