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West Norfolk commuters could pay hundreds more for travel after 3.8 per cent rail fare rise announced

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Rail commuters in West Norfolk may have to fork out nearly £300 more to get to work next year under the latest round of fare increases.

Regulated fares, which include most season tickets, are set to rise by 3.8 per cent in the New Year, although the new prices will not come into effect until March.

But one campaign group says the hike is unfair and even risks undermining efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Rail passengers can expect to pay more to travel from the spring.
Rail passengers can expect to pay more to travel from the spring.

The increase, which was confirmed in Friday, is usually set to the July Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate, plus one per cent.

The one per cent add-on will not be applied in 2022, and Government officials say the increase would be more seven per cent if current RPI levels were applied.

But, even at the current rate, the cost of annual season tickets from Lynn to Kings Cross is set to jump by at least £240, taking the price of a ticket incorporating use of the Underground to around £8,100 from the present £7,808.

The cost of equivalent tickets to Cambridge will also rise by around £100, to £2,458 from Downham or £2,628 from Lynn.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "This fare rise is far from fair. Rail fares should have been frozen to match the fuel duty freeze for car drivers.

"If the Government is serious about shrinking transport's carbon footprint it should make rail the affordable choice.

"Instead, it is asking some commuters to pay hundreds of pounds more for their season tickets, which risks driving people off rail and onto roads instead."

But Andy Bagnell, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, gave a more upbeat reaction.

He said: "The government’s decision to hold fares down in line with July’s inflation is welcome compared to last year’s above-inflation increase and the rate of inflation right now.

"It is important that fares are set at a level that will encourage more people to travel by train in the future, helping to support a clean and fair recovery from the pandemic.

"We know the railway must not take more than its fair share from the taxpayer, which is why the rail industry is working to create a financially sustainable and more passenger-focused service – that will both keep costs down long-term and attract people back to the train."

The Government has also announced that its Book with Confidence scheme, which allows passengers to change advance travel plans up to the evening before departure without being charged or to cancel journeys and receive vouchers as a refund, will be extended until the end of March.

Traditionally, fare increases are implemented on the first working day of the new year. Officials say the delay until March will allow passengers to buy or renew tickets at current rates.

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