Commuters are hit hardest by train fare hikes

BEXHILL commuters are amoung those hardest hit by annual fare hikes that exceed the rate of inflation.

Fare increases vary between train operators but Southern Rail’s season tickets have risen by an average of 4.2 per cent.

Many commuters struggling to make ends meet with the current ecomomic climate,will have little alternative but to dig deep to find the additional cash to pay for the increased fares in order to travel to work by train.

Weekly tickets from Bexhill to London via Haywards Heath now cost £107.60 and £144.60, a rise of 4.1 per cent. The TUC claims average fare increases have risen almost three times faster than incomes in the past four years.

Transport Minister Norman Baker defended the increases: “We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th Century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.

“In the longer term we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises,”

Southern’s Development Director, Alex Foulds, said although many fares have fallen, and advance fares remain frozen for the sixth consecutive year with ticket prices starting at just £5, adding: “We continue to offer fantastic value for our off-peak customers with some excellent online discounts with prices that are cheaper than last year. There is also good news for many of our season ticket holders with many rising by less than the Government cap and some even falling.”

Speaking on behalf of Bexhill Rail Action Group (BRAG), Richard Madge said once again it is commuters who will bear the brunt of the fare hikes. “We have noticed signs of investment in the rail network in recent years, but ticket increases rising faster than the rate of inflation and earnings puts pressure on long-distance commuters who live in Bexhill and Hastings.”

• All 2013 rail fares can be seen at: