Monday, 23 November 2020

Train fares to rise 1.9% next year

TRAIN passengers in Henley, Shiplake and Wargrave will see their fares rise by 1.9 per cent next year

TRAIN passengers in Henley, Shiplake and Wargrave will see their fares rise by 1.9 per cent next year.

Regulated fares in England and Wales will increase in January in line with last month’s Retail Prices Index, a measure of inflation published monthly by the Office for National Statistics.

It is almost double the rate of last year’s one per cent rise and comes amid calls for the railways to be nationalised.

Passengers in Henley currently pay about £15 to travel to London off-peak.

Neil Gunnell, of Henley Trains, said: “It is disappointing how much fares have gone up related to earnings in the last few years.

“However, compared with the strikes taking place elsewhere in the country, we are seeing a lot of investment in the Thames Valley.

“This includes improvements to the branch line, better peak services and, for a large majority, better off-peak services. With electrification there will also be new rolling stock.”

Philip Meadowcroft, founder of the Wargrave Users’ Group, said: “The increase is no surprise because it is built into the franchise agreements created by the Department for Transport and based on the midsummer rate of inflation, which is measured by the RPI.

“Seen against the background of morning and evening services which remain overcrowded and the threat of service cuts on the Henley branch line affecting Wargrave, paying more and getting a substandard service is hardly going to have ‘Wuggers’ waltzing up and down Station Road.”

Henley MP John Howell said the increase was fair compared with an expected rise in annual average wages of 2.4 per cent.

He said: “The wages increase is far in excess of rail fares, which have been kept down by government action over capping regulated fares.

“Nationalisation of the railways would be the most foolish thing to do. The service has improved and we need to encourage that, not stifle it by going back to the bad old days.”

Meanwhile, services on the Henley Branch Line are back to usual after flood prevention work.

Trains on the line were disrupted by the work between Didcot and Oxford and from Monday to Friday last week early morning and evening services between Henley and London Paddington ended at Twyford.

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