King's Lynn campaigners bemoan 'daily squeeze' as rail fare increases bite
Timetable misery and the failure to deliver long-awaited upgrades are fuelling passenger anger over the latest round of rail fare increases, campaigners have claimed.
A protest was held outside Lynn’s railway station this morning, as many commuters returned to work for the first time after the Christmas and New Year break.
The latest round of increases has seen fares rise by around 3.1 per cent.
That means the price of an annual season ticket for travel between Lynn and London King’s Cross has now risen above £6,000 for the first time.
Meanwhile, passengers travelling between Lynn and Cambridge are having to find around £75 more for their season tickets.
Lynn and District Trades Council secretary Jo Rust, who was among those leafleting passengers outside Lynn’s station, said the industry’s failure to deliver reliable or improved services was only adding to their frustrations.
The line was badly affected by disruption following the implementation of a new timetable last May, while passengers look likely to have to wait until 2020 for eight-coach trains to routinely run to and from Lynn, instead of the current four-coach units.
She said: “We know we’ve had people who have been stranded at some of our rural stations over the Christmas period and yet they’re expected to pay more for their travel costs when their wages haven’t kept pace.”
“There’s a tired resignation. It’s as if this is what we’ve come to expect and that’s something we want to change.
“We want to give people the hope we can do it in a different way.”
The Government used the implementation of the increases to announce plans for 16 and 17 year olds to access half-price rail travel, though the system will only come into force this autumn.
Ministers say they also want to see lower fares in the future and are reviewing the whole industry to look at affordability for passengers, with reforms set to start in 2020.
But Mrs Rust suggested transport secretary Chris Grayling should already have paid the penalty for the problems the industry faced during 2018.
She said: “I don’t know how he’s still in his job. The best reorganisation would be for him to step aside and let someone more competent take over.”