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Rail users' group condemns price hikes
8:10am Wednesday 9th January 2013 in News
RAIL fare rises - including a 7.25 per cent hike for a Kidderminster to Birmingham return ticket - have been condemned by a train users’ organisation.
The Stourbridge Line User Group (SLUG) said the increases were “way above” the formula which applied Retail Price Index plus one per cent.
SLUG chairman Rob Hebron said: “The annual inflation-busting hike in travel costs is hardly unexpected. However, the well worn phrase ‘it pays for developing the service’ simply will not wash with passengers this year.
“Those same customers can claim that their train service has actually deteriorated in 2012 and fare rises are unjustified on that basis alone.”
SLUG said that In 2012 London Midland delivered “comfort and speed” with new Class 172 trains. Likewise, Chiltern Railways introduced “superior” Mk3 Silver Locomotive-hauled trains on the Stourbridge Line.
Mr Hebron added: “What can the operators offer for 2013 which will placate commuters who are regularly late for work in the morning? The official answer is rejigged, more efficient timetables.
“The real answer lies in the terms of the franchise extension from the Department for Transport - to compensate for delays and cancellations, London Midland have offered a package of free and discounted tickets to use on their network.
“Will the train operator keep its promise to spend over £2 million on improvements, including a programme of information, safety and performance enhancements which, it states, will help to improve customers’ travel experience?”
He went on: “This is all very well if you believe that the £2 million is new money and not derived from the new year fare increases. The fact is that London Midland has suffered a serious blow to its stature and credibility and PR alone will not repair the damage to its reputation.”
He concluded: “As far as the Stourbridge Line User Group is concerned, basic issues will have to be tackled. Overcrowding during rush hour needs to be addressed. Worcestershire stations deserve a better frequency of trains and some need an upgrade to enable passengers to travel during the evening and Sundays.”