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Labour MEP Alex Mayer slams season ticket prices for Stortford train commuters

MEP Alex Mayer (6284730)
MEP Alex Mayer (6284730)

One of Bishop’s Stortford’s MEPs has slammed the price increases imposed on the town’s rail commuters for their train season tickets – which have risen 36% since 2010.

As employees returned to work in the capital after the Christmas and New Year break, new fares kicked in on train operator Greater Anglia's West Anglia network, which includes the London to Cambridge line and Stansted Express. The cheapest annual fare to Liverpool Street now costs £4,064, up 3.2% or £124.

Labour's Alex Mayer said that Britain needed to learn from other European railways. Long-suffering commuters will spend up to five times more of their income on trains than their Continental counterparts as a result of this month’s increase.

She said that figures show on average Brits spend 55p a mile travelling by rail – it costs half that (27p) in Ireland, 24p in Belgium while German passengers pay just 19p a mile.

In Germany, it costs £3,955.92 (4.395 euros) for a BahnCard100 – an annual ticket that covers the country's entire rail network, £108.08 less than a Bishop's Stortford to Liverpool Street season ticket.

Since 2010, British rail fares have risen three times as fast as earnings while commuter satisfaction has dipped to a 10-year low.

Ms Mayer said: “Give commuters a break. Surely after the delays, cancellations and overcrowding on the railways last year, the Government should not be allowing fares to increase faster than many people’s wages. We need to be encouraging people onto trains, not putting obstacles in the way.

"It is time to learn from Europe. Startlingly it costs more for the 33-mile commute from Bishop's Stortford to London than it does to travel across the whole German rail network.

"The Government could have used its power to cap regulated fares – instead they have let train companies off the hook and failed to stand up for passengers.

“Labour would bring our railways into public ownership. This would mean capped fares, more reliable services and more investment. It’s time to put passengers first, not profits.”

The rise’s root is in the Government’s July retail price index (RPI) figure, which is used as the basis for the following January’s ticket price changes for regulated rail fares: standard returns and season tickets.

Franchising costs that operator Greater Anglia is required to pay to the Department for Transport and Network Rail are also raised by the RPI figure.

Greater Anglia can set the price of some unregulated fares, such as advance and special deals such as Groupsave and off-peak fares.

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