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Watchdog calls for Southern fare freeze as passengers hit by price hike

PUBLISHED: 10:30 03 January 2017

Southern trains

Southern trains

Archant

The fare hikes have been branded a “kick in the teeth” for passengers

The transport watchdog has called for a freeze on Southern rail fares after campaigners reacted angrily to further price rises.

Passengers using Southern services face a 1.8 per cent hike in the average ticket price this year - slightly less than the national average of 2.3 per cent.

But after months of disruption due to industrial action over the role of conductors, a fare freeze on the Southern network was proposed as a means of rebuilding trust.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers will be disappointed that fares will rise by 2.3 per cent – higher than the last two years. In return passengers will now want to see the industry’s investment deliver a more reliable day-to-day railway.

“Many commuters, in London and the south east in particular, have suffered poor performance and will feel anger at paying more and getting less. A fares freeze for Southern passengers would help to start rebuild trust following the months of misery they have experienced.”

The UK-wide rise in fares, which is the highest since January 2014 when they increased by 2.8 per cent, has been criticised by public transport campaigners.

Figures vary between operators, with fares on Virgin Trains East Coast services up by 4.9 per cent.

The increase was branded “another kick in the teeth for long-suffering rail passengers” by Lianna Etkind, of the Campaign for Better Transport.

She said: “Many experienced a less frequent and more overcrowded service last year, and now they are required to pay more for the same this year.

“The whole fares system is completely unfair and it’s high time the government overhauled it.”

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