Welwyn Hatfield’s MP joins forces to demand rail fare freeze

PUBLISHED: 16:20 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:38 22 November 2018

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Archant

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has joined a chorus of Conservative MPs aiming to stop a hike in rail fares next year.

A display showing numerous cancelled and delayed trains between Welwyn Garden City and London King's Cross. Picture: Mia JankowiczA display showing numerous cancelled and delayed trains between Welwyn Garden City and London King's Cross. Picture: Mia Jankowicz

Rail fares are set to go up by 3.2 per cent in the new year, a rise that is annually calculated on the basis of inflation rates.

But since the botched new timetable roll-out earlier this year, passengers have faced enormous delays and cancellations and the new service is still not fully in place.

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP Grant Shapps has joined forces with two other former ministers - the MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon, and the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton.

They’re calling for the fare hike to be frozen in the new year.

Mr Shapps said: “Given this year’s lamentable performance there’s never been a more appropriate time to freeze fares.

“For the year ahead I think that passengers should be given a much-needed break from higher prices, in recognition of being so badly let down by the railway over the past few months.”

In October, rail user groups across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and South Cambridgeshire also called on the government to freeze fares going into 2019.

READ MORE: Rail user groups demand answers from government over fare freeze

Grant Shapps at a meeting with Great Northern officials. Mr Shapps' office.Grant Shapps at a meeting with Great Northern officials. Mr Shapps' office.

Transport minister Chris Grayling has so far defended the planned increase, but has pleaded with rail bosses to base their calculations not on the Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation gauge, but the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is typically lower.

The equivalent hike under the CPI measure would be 2.3 per cent.

Mr Shapps said he does support this measure, saying it would be a “partial success”.

If the 2019 fare hike goes ahead as planned, a 12-month season ticket pass from Welwyn Garden City to London King’s Cross will rise by £93.57, tipping the annual travel cost for that journey to over £3,000.

Commuters squeeze onto a London-bound train after cancellations this summer. Picture: Mia JankowiczCommuters squeeze onto a London-bound train after cancellations this summer. Picture: Mia Jankowicz

A Hatfield season ticket holder working in Cambridge would pay an extra £110.08 per year.

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