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Lib Dems Warn of Possible £400 Hike to Commuting Cost

Published on: 20 Aug, 2023
Updated on: 21 Aug, 2023

Guildford Railway Station

By Martin Giles

Liberal Democrats are calling for a rail fare freeze as Guildford commuters face paying nearly £400 more next year.

The Lib Dems claim an annual season ticket for Guildford to London commuters could rise by up to £389 to £4,700, the highest amount in over a decade, if the latest Retail Prices Index (RPI)  figure for July of 9 per cent is used.

According to a Lib Dem statement: “The [RPI] figure is normally used to increase rail fares from next March, ministers have refused to say by how much rail tickets will rise by next year.”

The government has said that rail fare rises in England will not exceed 9 per cent next year and will be delayed until March.

And Guildford’s MP Angela Richardson added: “I am pleased that the Department for Transport has confirmed that passengers in Guildford will be protected from inflation-level rail fare increases next year.”

Zoe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP

Zöe Franklin, the prospective Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate for Guildford, said: “Liberal Democrats are fighting for a fair deal for commuters and families who will be left forking out even more for train journeys in the middle of the cost of living crisis the Conservative government created.

“Ministers cannot keep ignoring these problems, especially as we are paying more for less on our rail network with more delays, cancellations and their failure to deal with the strikes. And let’s not forget the government’s plans to close ticket offices at stations around the country.

“We should be making clean forms of transport cheaper, yet this Conservative Government is determined to make rail more expensive than ever before.”

The Liberal Democrats are calling for rail fares to be frozen for five years. The party is also calling for a rethink over planned ticket office closures and for the Government to finally resolve the strike action disrupting services.

Angela Richardson responded: “Any increase will be capped below July’s RPI inflation rate and fares will be frozen in January and February for a third year, allowing passengers more time to adjust to any changes.

“As a regular rail user myself, I am committed to standing up for fellow passengers across Guildford, whether that be representing the concerns of my constituents in the ongoing ticket office consultation or demanding Sadiq Khan reverses his plan to scrap the day travelcard.”

Trevor Jones, chair of the Guildford Rail Users’ group, said: “I’d guess that most members would give higher priority to settling the current industrial unrest rather than argue about exact percentage fare rises.”

Mr Jones was also worried about the proposal to discontinue Travelcards and ticket office closures. “Travelcards are a very useful facility for us older folk who like paper tickets rather than phone apps or smartcards. Not having to pay separate fares for buses, tubes or local suburban trains when in London saves a lot of bother and Travelcards cover buses which don’t take cash fares in London.”

“Regarding ticket office closures, apart from people with disabilities who need them, I need them, even as an able-bodied experienced traveller, to check the time restrictions or permitted routes for off-peak journeys for more complicated journeys, as well as for buying more exotic things like rover tickets or through tickets to Ireland including the ferry.”

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Responses to Lib Dems Warn of Possible £400 Hike to Commuting Cost

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    August 20, 2023 at 8:51 pm

    Please note that although Harold is my first name, I am actually known by my second name Trevor. So where the article refers to “Harold Jones” I am one and the same as “Trevor Jones” whose comments on other transport and planning matters are occasionally published in The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

    Editor’s response: Noted. Thank you the article has been amended accordingly.

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