Rail commuters in West Norfolk are set to be asked to pay hundreds of pounds more for their travel next year after a average 4.1 per cent price hike was revealed this week.
The news has angered transport campaigners, though the body that represents rail users in this area has said it hopes the extra cash would deliver long-awaited improvements to services.
Increases in the cost of regulated fares, such as season tickets, are capped at one per cent above the retail price index inflation rate.
New figures released on Tuesday showed the RPI stood at 3.1 per cent in July, meaning season ticket prices will rise by around 4.1 per cent in January.
That would mean the price of an annual season ticket from Lynn to London including underground use, which is currently £6,380, could increase by around £280.
The cost of an annual season ticket between Lynn and Cambridge could also rise by more than £80, though details have yet to be finalised, as it is for the train operating companies themselves to decide how to implement the increase.
But groups such as the Campaign for Better Transport have claimed the rises will damage the economy by pricing workers off the railways and have demanded that ministers start to plan to cut fares in the future.
The campaign’s chief executive, Stephen Joseph, said: “One of the surest ways of stamping on any green shoots of recovery is to price people off the trains and out of the jobs market.”
However, Andy Tyler, secretary of the Fen Line Users Association, which lobbies for improved services on the line between West Norfolk, Cambridge and London Kings Cross, hopes the extra revenue would lead to improvements for passengers.
He said: “We regret the news of the increases. However, as the increases have to be made, we hope they will result, as planned, in our line having a better, faster and more comfortable service.”
As previously reported, Network Rail has committed to funding a £25 million project to dual the track at the Ely North junction, which would allow half-hourly services to run between West Norfolk and London.
And Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said the government’s policy of making passengers pay more was supporting major investment in the network to provide more and faster trains, as well as improved stations.
He said: “This is helping to drive passenger satisfaction to near record levels while seeking to reduce taxpayers’ contribution towards the cost of running the railways.”