Letchworth and Royston rail user groups’ anger over fare increase

PUBLISHED: 15:02 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:02 30 November 2018

Rail users groups have expressed anger over fare increases following poor service. Picture: Chris Rout/Alamy

Rail users groups have expressed anger over fare increases following poor service. Picture: Chris Rout/Alamy

© Chris Rout / Alamy

Today’s announcement of a fare increase of 3.1 per cent has been met with “dismay and fury” by Letchworth and Royston rail users.

The two rail groups – along with those in Arlesey, Ashwell & Morden, Baldock, Biggleswade, Hitchin, Meldeth, Shepreth & Foxton, Stevenage and more – wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling asking for a freeze on fares in August this year.

A similar letter to the Department for Transport, dated August 29, was signed by the MP for South Cambridgeshire Heidi Allen, Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami, Sir Oliver Heald – who represents North East Hertfordshire – Stephen McPartland, MP for Stevenage, and Jonathan Djanogly, who represents Huntingdon.

All five MPs backed the RUGs in their bid for a fare freeze.

Today, it was announced that there would be no such fare freeze, and commuters will be expected to pay an average of 3.1 per cent more from January 2, 2019.

Letchworth Rail User Group and Royston & Villages Rail Users Group said in a joint statement: “After a year of unprecedented disruption, the worst punctuality figures in a decade, the news of a rise of 3.1 per cent in fares has been met with dismay and fury by members of our local rail user groups.

“With fares growing faster than wages, many are genuinely concerned about how they will manage.

“Seventeen rail user groups on the Cambridge and Peterborough line wrote to the DfT twice this year, backed by similar calls from local MPs, to call for a fare freeze.

“We still do not have the service we were promised in May 2018. The winter timetable from December 10, 2018 only introduces the weekday May 2018 timetable, some seven months late and we will have to wait until May 2019 for the weekend service we were promised in May this year, a full 12 months late.
“The weekend service in particular is an utter disgrace. How rail users can be asked to pay any more at all until the full timetable runs is beyond us.

“Frankly, fares ought to be reduced until then, particularly as the industry compensation scheme for the acute disruption we endured last summer was inadequate.

“How can it be right that passengers received only one months’ compensation for at least ten weeks of total chaos?

“We have had nothing but stony silence from the Secretary of State to our letter in October repeating our call for a fare freeze and no response to several emails about the weekend timetable. It is extremely disappointing.”

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