Passengers hit out over rail fare hikes

Bicester Advertiser: Most passengers at Oxford railway station yesterday were critical of the increase in fares      Picture: OX53734 Jon Lewis Most passengers at Oxford railway station yesterday were critical of the increase in fares Picture: OX53734 Jon Lewis

COMMUTERS last night hit out at an inflation-busting 6.2 per cent increase in Rail fares.

They said the move would hit recession-weary travellers and damage the economy by putting more than £250 on the cost of an annual Oxford to London season ticket.

It means a First Great Western (FGW) Oxford to London season ticket will have gone from £4,104 in 2001, to £4,348 in 2012 and £4,617 in 2013.

The January 1 increase is based on the July retail prices index (RPI) figure of inflation, announced yesterday as 3.2 per cent.

On top of that the Government will next year for the first time add three per cent extra in a bid to improve the country’s railways.

It has previously added just one per cent and this year the fares rise was 5.9 per cent.

West Oxford resident Dom Utton, above – who wrote a highly-critical blog of his daily commute to the capital – said: “The service is not increasing by 6.2 per cent every year, I wonder what we are paying for. It is a ridiculous situation where nothing is getting any better but you are paying more money for it.”

Cherwell Rail Users Group chairman Chris Bates said: “People aren’t getting 6.2 per cent pay rises.

“Commuters are going to get hit in the pocket again and there will be less money to spend on helping the economy recover.”

Passenger Focus director David Sidebottom said: “For hard-pressed passengers, especially those who rely on the train to get to work, the prospect of another increase is a worrying one.”

Ministers said the rise was vital to make rail passengers meet more of the cost of running and improving the network, rather than taxpayers. Train operators will be able to set fare increases ranging from 1.2 per cent to 11.2 per cent, as long as the average rise across all their fares is 6.2 per cent.

OxRail passenger group’s Dennis Tan, who commutes from Oxford to London each day, said the highest increases must not hit city commuters. “No-one’s salary is increasing by 6.2 per cent in this climate,” he said.

“To add insult to injury, the maintenance and punctuality is not even at a desirable level.”

Punctuality on FGW’s Thames Valley services was 85.1 per cent in June and July this year, against a target of 92 per cent and the company’s services have been among the UK’s most crowded in recent years.

The firm is reintroducing five Class Adelante 180 trains to its fleet and adding an extra 80-seat coach to High Speed Trains to ease rush-hour overcrowding.

First Great Western spokesman James Davis said: “We understand that these are tough times for many people but the money raised by the Government through fares ensures investment in more trains, better stations and faster services.”

The county’s other train operators, Chiltern Railways and CrossCountry, declined to comment on the increases.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said the Government was spending £18bn over the next few years on a “massive programme” of improvements to the railway network.

She said: “Rail fares are helping to deliver this at a time when taxpayer funds are limited by the pressing need to tackle the deficit.”

Forthcoming improvement projects on the county’s railways over the next five years include a new Chiltern Railways service from Oxford to London Marylebone via Bicester and the reopening of the East West link between Oxford and Milton Keynes through Bicester.

The showpiece project is the electrification and resignalling of the Great Western main line and the launch of new electric express trains. These will start running between Oxford, Didcot and London from December 2016, followed by services from Didcot to Bristol and South Wales the following year.

The line from Oxford to Banbury, Leamington Spa and Coventry will also be fitted with overhead electric power cables by 2019.

FARES BASKET

  • WHAT a 6.2 per cent increase would mean for rush-hour fares:
    Oxford or Didcot to London Paddington
    Peak return £54 up to £57.34
    One month £417.50 up to £443.39
    Annual £4,348 up to £4,617.58
     
  • Bicester North to London Marylebone
    Peak return £22.50 up to £23.90
    One month £389.80 up to £413.97
    Annual £4,060 up to £4,311.72
     
  • Banbury to Oxford
    Peak return £10.90 up to £11.58
    One month £171.70 up to £182.34
    Annual £1,788 up to £1,898.86
     
  • Oxford to Reading
    Peak return £14.20 up to £15.08
    One Month £227.80 up to £241.92
    Annual £2,372 up to £2,519.10

Comments (4)

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9:44am Wed 15 Aug 12

train passenger says...

Electric trains coming to Oxford, how exciting. Oh I forget, that's what they had all over Germany, the Netherlands etc back in the 1980s.

Unfortunately in this country public services are a means towards private profits more than anything else. Whether it is roads, which get 'repaired' by private contractors in such a way as to guarantee they need to come back within 2 years, cables under the ground, which get laid in such an unco-ordinated way that the same piece of road needs to be opened up again in a year from now, or rail services, where train and maintenance companies can make good money because of all kinds of loopholes while passengers pay crazy amounts. A return to London costs £57.34, that's more than 50p per mile! A peak-time return from Berlin to Hannover costs less than that and is three times the distance! I am really not a socialist, but public services should be run for the public, not for private pockets, and in clever ways, not as if we live in the third world.
Electric trains coming to Oxford, how exciting. Oh I forget, that's what they had all over Germany, the Netherlands etc back in the 1980s. Unfortunately in this country public services are a means towards private profits more than anything else. Whether it is roads, which get 'repaired' by private contractors in such a way as to guarantee they need to come back within 2 years, cables under the ground, which get laid in such an unco-ordinated way that the same piece of road needs to be opened up again in a year from now, or rail services, where train and maintenance companies can make good money because of all kinds of loopholes while passengers pay crazy amounts. A return to London costs £57.34, that's more than 50p per mile! A peak-time return from Berlin to Hannover costs less than that and is three times the distance! I am really not a socialist, but public services should be run for the public, not for private pockets, and in clever ways, not as if we live in the third world. train passenger
  • Score: 1

9:56am Wed 15 Aug 12

Victor's_friend says...

I wonder what has happened to the term 'public transport' since so many of these services for the public are operated by private companies, who moan that fare increases are required to fund capital expenditure, increase the fares, then announce increased profits, bonuses, long term incentive plans, substantial dividends not to ordinary shareholders but to preferential or like shareholders.

I seen numerous bods on the FGW trains on their laptops scrolling down the massive lists of repair projects priorotising the projects that are most critical as they are pressured into spending the minimal amount.

See that FGW are so pleased to announce an extra coach on the HSTs, but then it may be first class. See that they are reinstating the Adelante stock that they first introduced ages ago then pulled them (because they didn't work?).

Poor Virgin Trains. When they first started out their mission was to deliver new train stock, which they did. If there were problems with the stock it wasn't their fault but the manufacturers who oversold their on paper capabilities. Then the delays were caused by the track infrastructure and we know what has happened to those corporate structures, even given human fatal injuries.

TOCs will increase fares up to the point where customers have no option but to pay, and customers will only moan. They need to march with their feet.

I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches.
I wonder what has happened to the term 'public transport' since so many of these services for the public are operated by private companies, who moan that fare increases are required to fund capital expenditure, increase the fares, then announce increased profits, bonuses, long term incentive plans, substantial dividends not to ordinary shareholders but to preferential or like shareholders. I seen numerous bods on the FGW trains on their laptops scrolling down the massive lists of repair projects priorotising the projects that are most critical as they are pressured into spending the minimal amount. See that FGW are so pleased to announce an extra coach on the HSTs, but then it may be first class. See that they are reinstating the Adelante stock that they first introduced ages ago then pulled them (because they didn't work?). Poor Virgin Trains. When they first started out their mission was to deliver new train stock, which they did. If there were problems with the stock it wasn't their fault but the manufacturers who oversold their on paper capabilities. Then the delays were caused by the track infrastructure and we know what has happened to those corporate structures, even given human fatal injuries. TOCs will increase fares up to the point where customers have no option but to pay, and customers will only moan. They need to march with their feet. I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches. Victor's_friend
  • Score: 0

10:32am Wed 15 Aug 12

snert says...

Victor's_friend wrote:
I wonder what has happened to the term 'public transport' since so many of these services for the public are operated by private companies, who moan that fare increases are required to fund capital expenditure, increase the fares, then announce increased profits, bonuses, long term incentive plans, substantial dividends not to ordinary shareholders but to preferential or like shareholders.

I seen numerous bods on the FGW trains on their laptops scrolling down the massive lists of repair projects priorotising the projects that are most critical as they are pressured into spending the minimal amount.

See that FGW are so pleased to announce an extra coach on the HSTs, but then it may be first class. See that they are reinstating the Adelante stock that they first introduced ages ago then pulled them (because they didn't work?).

Poor Virgin Trains. When they first started out their mission was to deliver new train stock, which they did. If there were problems with the stock it wasn't their fault but the manufacturers who oversold their on paper capabilities. Then the delays were caused by the track infrastructure and we know what has happened to those corporate structures, even given human fatal injuries.

TOCs will increase fares up to the point where customers have no option but to pay, and customers will only moan. They need to march with their feet.

I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches.
"...I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches..."

No, you can't. I used to do this years ago when I travelled via Reading the Paddington. The train staff actively used to force people to crush up in the overcrowded second class. I used to stand in the vetibule in 1st class because it was at the front of the train but apparently I wasn't allowed to because I was making use of 1st class facilities. Other than being closer to the front of th etrain which reduced the walk at Paddington, I found no difference in the vestibule in 1st class to 2nd class.

I recall one time we were actively blocked by one of the train staff physically blocking the carriage entrance with a trolley to prevent people from making use of the space.

I complained to FGW about that incident and apparently the incident was to be investigated (read that as ignored)

I'm glad I no longer work in London. I work at home. Why aren't companies making better use of home workers? More staff but less office space required. Less stressed staff. Staff not being held up by traffic of train problems. No cost to the person working at home so less of a large salary requirement. You actually work more hours at home because you don't simply stop and walk out at 5.30 and you're not constrained by the traffic in the morning. It beggars belief that companies are still not making use of this.
[quote][p][bold]Victor's_friend[/bold] wrote: I wonder what has happened to the term 'public transport' since so many of these services for the public are operated by private companies, who moan that fare increases are required to fund capital expenditure, increase the fares, then announce increased profits, bonuses, long term incentive plans, substantial dividends not to ordinary shareholders but to preferential or like shareholders. I seen numerous bods on the FGW trains on their laptops scrolling down the massive lists of repair projects priorotising the projects that are most critical as they are pressured into spending the minimal amount. See that FGW are so pleased to announce an extra coach on the HSTs, but then it may be first class. See that they are reinstating the Adelante stock that they first introduced ages ago then pulled them (because they didn't work?). Poor Virgin Trains. When they first started out their mission was to deliver new train stock, which they did. If there were problems with the stock it wasn't their fault but the manufacturers who oversold their on paper capabilities. Then the delays were caused by the track infrastructure and we know what has happened to those corporate structures, even given human fatal injuries. TOCs will increase fares up to the point where customers have no option but to pay, and customers will only moan. They need to march with their feet. I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches.[/p][/quote]"...I wonder if, when second class (standard) is overcrowded one can stand in first class in the space between those coaches..." No, you can't. I used to do this years ago when I travelled via Reading the Paddington. The train staff actively used to force people to crush up in the overcrowded second class. I used to stand in the vetibule in 1st class because it was at the front of the train but apparently I wasn't allowed to because I was making use of 1st class facilities. Other than being closer to the front of th etrain which reduced the walk at Paddington, I found no difference in the vestibule in 1st class to 2nd class. I recall one time we were actively blocked by one of the train staff physically blocking the carriage entrance with a trolley to prevent people from making use of the space. I complained to FGW about that incident and apparently the incident was to be investigated (read that as ignored) I'm glad I no longer work in London. I work at home. Why aren't companies making better use of home workers? More staff but less office space required. Less stressed staff. Staff not being held up by traffic of train problems. No cost to the person working at home so less of a large salary requirement. You actually work more hours at home because you don't simply stop and walk out at 5.30 and you're not constrained by the traffic in the morning. It beggars belief that companies are still not making use of this. snert
  • Score: 0

6:29pm Wed 15 Aug 12

Andrew:Oxford says...

£54.00 sounds bad enough, but for most people they buy a ticket that includes a travel card, so it's currently £59.90 return. If TfL increase the travelcard by the same rate of 6.2%, then it'll be £6.26 on top of the new fare of £57.34, so that'll be £63.60 return.

Somone on full-time minimum wage would have to work 12 hours in order to take the train to London for an interview for a better job.
£54.00 sounds bad enough, but for most people they buy a ticket that includes a travel card, so it's currently £59.90 return. If TfL increase the travelcard by the same rate of 6.2%, then it'll be £6.26 on top of the new fare of £57.34, so that'll be £63.60 return. Somone on full-time minimum wage would have to work 12 hours in order to take the train to London for an interview for a better job. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

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