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Mayor: Government must rethink ‘unjustifiable’ plans for 3.5 per cent
• Sadiq Khan calls on Ministers to follow his example and freeze rail fares in January, saying another 3.5 per cent fares hike would be ‘woefully out of touch’
• Zone 1-6 commuters face annual season ticket increase of £7 a month
• Mayor warns of major disruption to rail journeys into Waterloo over August, demanding speedy and full compensation for passengers if the works are delayed
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hit out at Government plans to increase fares on London’s suburban rail network by around 3.5 per cent next January, stating that hiking rail fares in the current climate would be ‘woefully out of touch’.
The decision to increase rail fares is expected to be confirmed by the Government next month based on the July figure for RPI inflation.
With people’s wages not keeping up with the rate of inflation, the Mayor is calling on the Government and train operating companies to urgently rethink their plans and freeze fares on all suburban rail routes in London from this January – matching TfL’s fares freeze and preventing an unjustifiable further squeeze on commuters’ household budgets.
If fares are increased by 3.5 per cent in line with latest RPI figure for June, rail commuters in Zones 1-6 areas such as Kingston and Surbiton will see the cost of their annual travel increase from £2,408 to £2,492 – an increase of £84, or the equivalent of £7 a month.
Annual travel in zones 1-4 will increase by £66, or the equivalent of £5.50 a month. This increase will come after commuters have faced a year of delays, overcrowding and cancellations across London’s suburban rail network.
The Mayor is also raising the issue of upcoming works at Waterloo Station this August. As part of the £800million package of improvements at Waterloo, 10 platforms will be closed for building work between 5-28 August, with rail timetables severely limited, and stations like Earlsfield (during morning and evening peak times), Norbiton and Queenstown Road closed to commuters.
With thousands of passengers facing ‘nightmare’ disruption to their journeys over August, the Mayor is warning that any further delays of the work into September could cause the rail network to descend into chaos when commuters return to the UK’s busiest railway station after the summer.
South West Trains and Network Rail will not be compensating passengers for the disruption, despite the fact that a number of stations will be closed. The Mayor is demanding full compensation for every passenger if the works are delayed, or if there is more disruption to services than already advertised by South West Trains.
TfL will be supporting passengers affected by the works at Waterloo, including accepting South West Trains tickets on parts of the Northern, District, Bakerloo, and Victoria lines and 21 different bus routes, as well as running additional bus routes. This will be paid for by South West Trains.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “With people’s pay not keeping up with inflation, it would be woefully out of touch for the Government to allow underperforming private rail companies to hike up their fares again. I’m calling on the Government to match my TfL fares freeze and prevent another squeeze on household budgets in the new year. Passengers on London’s suburban rail routes pay thousands of pounds for tickets every year, but have faced repeated delays, overcrowding and cancellations.
“Many commuters are now facing additional station closures and nightmare journeys to Waterloo over the summer. If the works at Waterloo are delayed, passengers deserve nothing less than speedy and full compensation for every affected journey. If the closures drag on into September, London’s rail network could descend into chaos, and I’ll be watching progress on the works like a hawk.
“The Government and the Private Rail companies desperately need to show that they’re on the side of passengers. Announcing another hike in rail fares next month would be completely unjustifiable, and the Government must think again.”
Lianna Etkind, Campaign for Better Transport, said: "If ever there was a time for the Government to step in and end the ever-increasing costs of taking the train, it's now. Wages are stagnant, and many people really struggle with the costs of getting to work, to education or to see friends and family. Passengers are rightly asking why they should pay ever-spiralling rail costs when, year after year, the costs of motoring are held down. A fares freeze would not only help millions of people manage the costs of living, but would encourage more people to choose public transport and move us towards cleaner air, more liveable cities and a more sustainable society."
Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, said: "Living in outer London is getting more and more expensive, so yet another fare increase, particularly for rail passengers, is the last thing people here need. The Government must address the cost-of-living crisis and freezing rail fares would be an excellent start."