Welwyn Hatfield rail users ‘fed up’ after fare hikes come in
PUBLISHED: 06:59 09 January 2020
Welwyn Hatfield commuters have responded to the 2.7 per cent hike in rail prices at the start of the year.
The rise in prices means that the cost of the average season ticket into London has gone up by as much as £100, although the increase is lower than the 3.1 per cent price hike at the start of 2019.
Welwyn Rail User Group spokesman Cllr Malcolm Cowan said: "The latest in a seemingly never-ending series of fares rises, imposed last week, coincides with yet another set of failures with widespread cancellations.
"Even at the weekends, the full service does not operate - and services are the slowest for many years as operator Govia Thameslink Railway and the Department of Transport connive together to try to ensure no train is every late by giving them so much slack time in their schedule.
"No wonder rail users are fed up. Instead we get messages about contactless tickets being introduced, which are in fact often more expensive than paper tickets - hardly a success.
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"Meanwhile, in Germany, many fares are being cut to make rail travel more attractive and to cut carbon emissions - why can't we go down that route?"
While his department has come under fire, transport secretary and Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps confirmed plans to trial a system of 'flexible' tickets on Govia Thameslink services, offering discounts to part-time workers travelling only certain days a week.
Mary Lowe, from the Hatfield Association of Rail Travellers, said: "The increase is largely down to the policy of successive governments shifting more rail costs gradually from taxpayers to passengers, and our members will have diverse opinions on this.
"Where they are in agreement is in wanting a rail service that is predictable and reliable - with an end to incidences of trains being cancelled for 'no driver available'.
"Infrastructure issues are being addressed through the current cleaning/engineering programme. However that, and other infrastructure improvements, mean Welwyn Hatfield passengers face a couple of years of disruption - particularly late evenings and weekends.
"Overall the current fare system is over-complicated and confusing. Hopefully 2020 will see significant improvements."