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Rail commuters told to brace themselves for inflation-busting rise in cost of season tickets

Tens of thousands of commuters will be forced to pay more than £5,000 a year for their rail season tickets from January with fares rising twice as fast as inflation.

Some rail fares could jump by 11 per cent from the New Year with more huge hikes coming in 2014.

Figures published today are just for mainline rail. Travelcard rises, which include the Tube, will be announced later and are expected also to include huge increases
Protests were held outside stations across the UK.

Commuters arriving in London were met with demonstrations at Waterloo main line, Euston, King's Cross and Kentish Town.

Those facing the biggest rises - the £5,000 a year "Commuters' Club" - into London include those from King's Lynn, in Norfolk (£5,325,) Battle in Sussex (£5,250) and Newbury in Berkshire (£5,003.)

The rises are based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for July, announced today, on which the train companies calculate their annual increases.

The government has awarded the train companies permission to increase fares next year and 2014 by three per cent above inflation; meaning average peak time increases from January of around five per cent.

Some commuters will pay far more.

The companies must keep to within the RPI plus three per cent within their franchise; how they do it is up to them. They could load some routes more than the average provided they keep other lines below they average.

Individual fares won't be revealed today; passengers will have to wait several months more before these prices are known.

The TSSA union, whose white collar ticket office and managerial members calculate and implement the increases, was among those leading the protests.

A union showed showed that Home Counties travellers into London will be forking out £100 a week just to get to get to and from work.

Manuel Cortes, the TSSA leader, said the railways are being turned "into a rich man's toy.

"This is all about squeezing a capitive audience, the commuter, until the pips squeak. It is little more than daylight robbery," he said.

Rob Crow, the RMT leader, said: "Passengers will be rightly angry when they find out the full extent of the inflation-busting increases imposed on them by government diktat.

"The campaign to Bring Back British Rail is an idea whose time has come."

The TUC, which organised the protests, said train companies are being allowed "to charge passengers up to 11 per cent for train travel from January 2013."

At the same time, the government is asking the train companies and Network Rail to implement cost-cutting proposals contained in Sir Roy McNulty's Rail Value for Money Study which the unions say could lead to the loss of 20,000 jobs, raising safety fears.

In a test case - revealed by the Evening Standard - London Midland has submitted proposals for closures and reductions in operating hours of more than 80 tickets offices, leaving many stations without staff.

Frances O'Grady, TUC deputy general secretary, said: "The government is asking train operators to make cuts to staff on trains, stations and in ticket offices while continuing to receive public subsidy and give millions (of pounds) in dividends to shareholders.

"Passengers are being asked to pay more to get less. We want cuts to rail fares, not rail staff."

The increases were defended by Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC.)

He said: “The government decides the average increase of commuter ticket prices and other regulated fares which train companies will be required to introduce in January 2013.

“It has been government policy during the past eight years for passengers to pay a larger share of the cost of operating the railways and to focus taxpayers’ money on investing in longer term improvements to the network. Any flexibility train companies have within the rules is to maximise revenue for the government.”

Price rises

Assuming a five per cent increase it means an annual season ticket from Manningtree, Essex, rises to £5,060; Newbury, Berks, £5003, Bedford, Bedfordshire, £5030, Baldock, Herts, £5040,

King's Lynn, Norfolk, £5,325, Battle, Sussex, £5,250 and Biggleswade, Herts, £5,250.

Source; TSSA

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