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Sussex commuters hit by un-fare rail subsidies
Commuters in Sussex are paying tens of millions of pounds a year to subsidise train services in the rest of the country.
Southern and First Capital Connect paid a combined premium of £179.4 million to the Government last year, while operators such as Northern Rail, which serves the North East and North West, received a £97 million subsidy.
First Capital Connect provided a £162.7 million subsidy to the government last year and Southern paid £16.7 million.
Figures released by watchdog Office of Rail Regulation also reveal passengers in the county paid the second highest amount per kilometre while receiving the second lowest amount of Government funding.
The news comes as passengers heard fares would soar again this year, adding £176 to the yearly Brighton-London £4,350 ticket.
Transport chiefs are now facing a barrage of criticism from hard- pressed commuters.
Shelley Atlas, from the Brighton Line Commuters organisation, said the train companies in Sussex needed to shout louder for a fair share.
She said: “We have always asked where the money goes from all these rail fare increases. Now we know.
“The rail companies should be looking hard at these figures and talking to the Government to get a better deal.”
Chris Barnard commutes from his home in Brighton to work in Battersea everyday in a two-hour-and-twenty- minute round journey.
He said the trains are regularly late and that costs workers in docked wages.
He said: “If Southern are going to hike fares they need to provide a better service – not spend the money on subsidies to other rail companies.”
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “People who travel by train to and from Brighton and Hove will be angered to learn so little is being invested in rail infrastructure in Sussex.
“Services cost a fortune, and are often unreliable and overcrowded.
“These figures provide more evidence that our fragmented, privatised rail system creates inequalities between different parts of the country, as well as wasting huge amounts of money.
"Meanwhile, subsidies from taxpayers are going straight into the pockets of shareholders.”
Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “I have written to the Department of Transport to ask them to explain why people in Sussex pay a disproportionate amount for a disproportionate service.
"There seems to have been a real shortfall of funding between the North and the South and there needs to be a fair formula.”
The subsidy figures in this story have been corrected and differ from those published in today's newspaper, which were provided by the ORR.
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