Campaigners have demanded a minimum 10 per cent cut in rail fares on West Norfolk’s line as compensation for the prospect of longer journeys.
This week’s announcement that fares will increase by an average of 3.4 per cent in January has sparked renewed anger over costs and a perceived lack of improvements to the service.
Now, the Fen Line Users Association has called for passengers to be compensated
Chairman Colin Sampson said: “We’ve said before that more and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London and that they expect a decent train service.
“The growth isn’t a flash in the pan. The official statistics show strong passenger growth year after year.
“Not delivering the promised ‘half-hourly’ frequency is bad enough, but now they’re thinking of slowing things down on top of that.
“We think fares should be reduced to compensate, not going up again. Many journeys would be 15 per cent longer if this goes through, so we’re looking for at least a 10 per cent price cut on all fares.”
But the Rail Delivery Group, the body which represents train operators and Network Rail, insists the increases will help to make better services a reality.
Chief executive Paul Plummer said: “Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway’s long-term plan to change and improve.”
The group also points out the average increase is below the rate of inflation and claims measures like the extension of the discount railcard to include people up to the age of 30 will help to ensure train travel remains affordable.
Meanwhile, Action for Rail activists, who want the network to be returned to public ownership, are expected to stage fresh demonstrations against the hikes when they come into force in January.
North West Norfolk Labour secretary Jo Rust said there was justified public anger over the increases, particularly given disruption to services on the day of the announcement.
She said: “It’s an affront to commuters who are held to ransom over fares but see their wages stagnating while profits for shareholders get bigger.”