PASSENGERS at Swindon Railway Station have criticised above-inflation ticket price hikes, which came into effect yesterday.
Overall, ticket prices have gone up by 3.9 per cent in England, Wales and Scotland, while fares for season ticket holders have increased by an average of 4.2 per cent.
According to the National Rail website, a standard class 12-month adult season ticket from Swindon to London is now £7,760, while a single adult ticket to Paddington is £24.80 off-peak and £58.50 on-peak.
Chris Watts, of the Fair Fares for Swindon campaign, said: “It affects Swindon more because our prices are higher than most other places, so as a percentage increase that affects people more.
“I think there should be a price freeze in Swindon or even a price drop to bring us into parity to other locations in the country.
“It’s unfair we’re paying proportionally more than other locations in the country, and it’s affecting inward investment in the town.”
Rail passenger Angie Farthing, 57, of central Swindon, said: “I go from here to Gloucester to visit my parents.
“ I think everything going up above inflation is ridiculous. I feel really sorry for the youngsters and what they’ve got to put up with.”
Jake Benn, 17, who travels regularly between Derby and Swindon to see his girlfriend Sophie Bird, 16, of Greenmeadow, said: “It’s a bit much. I go back to Derby regularly, it costs me £30 return. Obviously it would be better if it was cheaper.”
Sophie, also a student, said: “I think it’s quite a lot, and for a student as well. I would like to see it reduced.”
Pensioners Roger and Sue Marsden, of Old Town, were disappointed with the hike.
“It seems to me it’s pricing people off the railway completely,” said Roger.
Sue added: “It’s making the car more and more desirable. The buses are very poor, generally all of the public transport is forcing us to use our cars, and yet they don’t want us to.”
Initially the rail fare increase was set at the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation, plus three per cent – a total of 6.2 per cent – but this was reduced to RPI plus one per cent by the Government in October.
Justin Tomlinson, the Swindon North MP, said the extra cash from passengers would be used alongside other public funds to improve capacity on railways.
He said: “I’m delighted that the chancellor pegged the increase to one per cent above RPI, in contrast to the two years of 10 per cent-plus hikes we saw under Labour.
“We welcome the continued huge investment in our local rail service, which has already seen the announcement of the electrification of the Great Western mainline and the doubling of the Swindon to Kemble line, which will speed up the service and crucially allow for a much-needed greater capacity, which will help lessen the need for price rises.”