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  • "Having to suffer the trains into and out of London at all times of the day, I'm personally not that upset by the prices rises per se.

    What really hacks me off is that despite the very high cost of a ticket, neither of the two firms operating to Brighton are capable of delivering anything that could be called a 'service'.

    Timekeeping is a word apparently lost on the trains. Southerm managed to get 68% punctuality in the final three months of 2012. Think about that for a moment - if you were late for work 1 day in every 3, you'd be sacked.

    Overcrowding also seems to not be in the My First Railway Dictionary they keep at Southern HQ. I'm fortunate to board at Portslade, but usually get to see season ticket holders get on at Hove and stand the whole way to Victoria or London Bridge (aka Mordor). Then, double treat, we get to play sardines on the way home too.

    Then there's cleanliness. A recent survey found that Southern's trains have botulism bacteria (if I recall correctly) present in a third of their rolling stock. Botulism for chrissakes! If a restaurant had this sort of stuff kicking about, it would be shut down immediately.

    So, Mr Norman Baker MP (Lewes Con) Minister for Transport, yes the price rises are broadly acceptable if the service provided in some way represented value for money. It doesn't - statistically, 1/3 of the time I'll be late, 1/3 of the time I'll risk contracting something horrendous, and almost certainly I'll get to spend an hour rammed into said filthy, late, space with hundreds of other poor souls.

    The Government, and Mr Baker especially, have it within their power to do something about this utterly pathetic state of affairs. But inaction, disinterest, and odd obsession on viewing HS2 as 'Investment' means Southern and FCC are left to do what they please.

    The whole point of franchising the railways was to prevent this sort of thing happening. Instead it has simply become an end date for the operator to make as much profit as humanly possible before some other bunch of profit-driven, cost-conscious, lean SIGMA6 specialists take over and continue to rape the system.

    Southern and FCC have it within their capacity to lobby the Government to fund BML2 to deal with capacity and single point of failure (as Preston Park fire showed). But they won't - a secondary Brighton line would mean they'd have to pay Network Rail more money, run more trains, and carry the same amount of passengers. Ergo, less profit."
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Commuters' decade of pain to pay for train

First published in News by

COMMUTERS have hit out at new rail fares which increased above the rate of inflation yes- terday for the tenth year running.

Brighton to London tickets have rocketed by 53.82% in the last decade with a season ticket rising from £2,720 in 2003 to £4,184 today.

A weekly ticket for commuters working in the capital is now £104.60, up from £68 in 2003. Liliya Cowper, 40, from Worthing, commutes to Brighton each day for work.

She said: “From next week I’m going to look at getting the bus.

It’s so expensive and I think I could save nearly 50% by getting the bus to work.”

Paula Williams, 43, who commutes from Berwick each day, pays £161 a month.

She said: “It is a lot of money but I don’t have any other options.”

Fares have been rising above inflation for the past 10 years with increases varying depending on train companies and route.

The hikes have been repeated across Sussex, with commuters from Eastbourne paying 58.24% more than in 2003 while those in Crawley forking out 57.55% more.

For the former, a sea- son ticket costs £4,304 (up from £2,720) with a weekly fare £107.60 (up from £68).

For the latter, commuters now pay £3,296 (up from £2,092) with a weekly ticket cost- ing £82.40 (up from £52.30).

However, the largest hike was reserved for workers in Hastings, who as of yesterday pay £4,584 (up from £2,880) and £114.60 (up from £72) for a weekly ticket.

Petition launched Campaigners have launched a petition to end the inflation busting rises and are calling on the government to set a date for action.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The impact of successive Government’s policies on rail fares is appalling.

“It’s truly shocking that we have deliberately made getting the train to work an extravagance that many struggle to afford.

“The time has come not just to stop the rises but to reduce fares.”

Norman Baker, transport minister and Lewes MP, described the continuing rise as “not ideal” but defended the policy.

He said: “We are engaged in the biggest rail investment programme since the 19th Century and it is only right that the passenger, as well as the taxpayer, contributes towards that.

“In the longer term we are determined to reduce the cost of running the railways so that we can end the era of above-inflation fare rises.”

Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said he would continue to make sure his constituents’ voices were heard but said there was no easy answer.

He added: “It’s about striking a balance between the taxpayers and rail users when paying for invest- ment in the railways.”

Mike Weatherley, MP for Hove, said: “We all know that the taxes that we pay generally are being stretched in plugging the huge hole left in our nation’s finances.

“The painful reality is that we have little choice but to ask those who use our railways to pay for them.”

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