Proposed rail fare hikes to add around £100 to Welwyn Hatfield season tickets

PUBLISHED: 17:25 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:25 15 August 2018

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

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

Mia Jankowicz

Welwyn Hatfield rail users could be set to pay £100 more for their season tickets despite the ongoing rail chaos.

A Great Northern Train. Picture: Nick GillA Great Northern Train. Picture: Nick Gill

The key percentage by which rail companies are allowed to tot up price hikes for season tickets was announced today.

If rail bosses increase fares as much as they are allowed in 2019, 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.

A Hatfield season ticket holder would, by 2019, pay an extra £110.08 per year for the privilege of travelling to Cambridge for work.

The figures for possible fare increases are based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) for July, which was announced this morning (August 15).

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

The RPI is also used to guide the cost of certain long-distance and off-peak services, as well as pay increases for rail workers.

July’s RPI came in at 3.2 per cent, less than the predicted 3.5 per cent.

However, the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has called for a different measure to be used in calculating the increase.

Mr Grayling has proposed using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead, which is usually lower, and was 2.3 per cent for July.

He told the BBC today (August 15): “My challenge to the unions is let’s get the routine increases in train fares ... down to the lower level of inflation that is used by pretty much the whole of the rest of the public sector and much of the rest of our economy, so that passengers don’t have a higher level of fare increase than I think they should have.”

Rail unions have reacted angrily to the proposals, saying the suggestion amounts to a “pay cap” on rail workers.

But Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who backs Mr Grayling’s proposal, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “Given the past few months suffered by Welwyn Hatfield rail commuters, I do not believe anyone should have an increase at this time.”

Over recent months Mr Shapps has led calls to strip the franchise from Govia Thameslink, which oversaw a disastrous changeover in timetable in May and has still not fully implemented its full service.

“In fact, a lot of people are owed cash back for the appalling rail service they’ve been forced to endure,” he added.

“Whilst I appreciate the rail system needs to be able to continue investing, meaning some fare increases are inevitable, these have been at the top end of prices for years.

“I therefore welcome Chris Grayling’s initiative to switch to using the CPI rather than the RPI.

“Since CPI usually rises quite a lot slower than RPI, ticket price increases would be more moderate and affordable.”

Labour MEP for the East of England Alex Mayer said: “Give commuters a break. Surely after the chaos of the last few months, the government should not be allowing fares to increase faster than many people’s wages.

“This news is yet another smack in the face for hard working commuters who have been hit again and again by eye-watering rail fare rises.

“We need to be encouraging people onto trains not putting obstacles in the way.

“Labour would bring our railways into public ownership, this would mean capped fates, more reliable services, and more investment.

“It’s time to put passengers first, not profit and run our railways for the many, not the few.”

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