Anger as Welwyn Hatfield commuters hit with 2019 rail fare hike

Left to right - local DJ Mark, Cathy Watson (Labour candidate for Hatfield East - local elections in

Left to right - local DJ Mark, Cathy Watson (Labour candidate for Hatfield East - local elections in May), Kieran Thorpe (leader of Welwyn Hatfield Labour group), Rosie Newbigging and Hatfield mayor Jack Nelson, Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield commuters have been hit with an average rail fare hike of 3.1%, tipping the cost of a season ticket from Welwyn Garden City into London to more than £3,000.

As the fare increase was introduced today, Labour party members held a demonstration at Hatfield station, handing out leaflets to commuters.

Welwyn Hatfield Labour parliamentary hopeful Rosie Newbigging, who attended the rush-hour demonstration, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “This rail rip off can’t continue.

“2018 will be remembered for train delays and cancellations and 2019 will see passengers short-changed again as ticket prices rise to record levels.

“The Government must step in to immediately freeze fares.

“It’s time for the railways to come back into public ownership so they are run in the interest of passengers, not private profit.”

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps and local Lib Dem leader Malcolm Cowan, who heads up the WGC rail user group, have also previously called for a freeze on 2019 rail fares.

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Last year, a season ticket from Welwyn Garden City to London terminals cost £2,924 and this has gone up to £3,016 (an increase of 3.15%).

Last year, the cost was £2,724 from Hatfield, which has now gone up to £2,808 (up 3.08%).

From Potters Bar, commuters were paying £2,152.

This is now £2,220 (an increase of 3.16%)

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said: “Fares on Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express will rise by an average of 2.97% which is less than the rate of inflation and less than the national average.

“We understand that many of our passengers have had a difficult year.

“Thameslink and Great Northern services are back on track and on December 10 we introduced 200 extra services to complete the rollout of the May timetable. We thank passengers for their patience.”

The GTR spokesperson highlighted that passengers using off-peak day tickets can now travel home from London during the evening peak at no extra charge to stations on the Peterborough and Cambridge routes, north from Potters Bar and north from Cuffley.

For example, a passenger who travels on the first off-peak train at 9.47am from Stevenage and buys a One Day Travelcard used to have to pay £31.90 to return in the evening peak (between 4.29pm and 7.02pm).

From January 2, they have been able to buy an off-peak ticket to do this for £26.20, saving £5.70.

Passengers can also make further savings.

Off-peak tickets (unlike peak tickets) allow passengers to take up to four children with them for £2 each and if they are travelling with at least another two adults they will also save a third off with a GroupSave discount, again with no time restriction on their journey home.

Rail companies are working together to offer even better value for money with the 26-30 Railcard launching today and offering people in this age bracket 1/3 off rail travel.