Courier quotes TLC on high rail fares

The Kent and Sussex Courier has recently published an article about the cost of rail travel from Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, compared to other parts of the country. The article, which appeared on Friday 29 November 2013, can be viewed on the Courier's website. TLC was asked to provide a quote for the article, but only a shortened version of our comments were published. For the interest of our members and other rail users, the full text of the quote is therefore given below:

"Tonbridge Line Commuters accept that fares per mile generally reduce as journey length increases. The ‘Courier's research confirms that for the distance our local fares are amongst the highest in the country, yet we have not seen the exemplary service which justifies this level of pricing. This has primarily come about through manipulation of the ‘cap’ under which each year fares are allowed to rise up to 5% over the average in certain places, and here Southeastern’s use of the words ‘market led’ says it all. Research by Tonbridge Line Commuters in Autumn 2011 found that since 2007 the cost of an annual season ticket (which is a standard multiple of the ordinary fare quoted by the ‘Courier’) between Tonbridge and London had increased by 35%, when the RPI had only increased by 14%. (This has usually been in order to keep fares down within Greater London with the result that it is now cheaper to buy a ticket from Tonbridge to Knockholt and then another to London than for the whole journey.) Since 2011 the price of the same season ticket has risen a further £360 to an astonishing £3768. A further increase of around 4.1% is expected in January 2014.

"The cost of a season ticket is second only to the cost of housing for many passengers, and so these above-inflation rises threaten to price people off what is often their only viable means to getting to work. We have continually campaigned to make the Government appreciate this, and to bring an end to above inflation price rises. We also urge Southeastern not to use the flexibility it has to adjust individual fares to unfairly target West Kent passengers, who simply cannot afford to act as cash cows for the rest of the network. Our Association has therefore welcomed the news that the 'cap' is being reduced this year so that individual fares may now rise by no more than 2% in addition to the average rise in fare levels, as opposed to 5% as previously. However, there is far more to be done to make commuting affordable. More and more commuters are travelling less than five days per week, and we have called for part time season tickets to serve this market. Fair fares are something every passenger has a right to expect."