Business leaders slam rail price increases with calls to look at “the bigger picture”

Norwich and Great Yarmouth trains cancelled due to "disruptive passengers". Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich and Great Yarmouth trains cancelled due to "disruptive passengers". Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Rail users in Norfolk have been dealt a double blow with the news that national rail fares have increased by 3%, as well as Greater Anglia increasing some of their ticket prices.

It was announced today that the cost of rail season tickets has risen by more than £100 across the country.

On top of this, Greater Anglia's 'Anglia Plus' ranger ticket has increased in price from £19 to £24.

A spokesman for Greater Anglia said: 'We have increased the price of our Anglia Plus Ranger and Rover tickets to more accurately reflect the great value of these passes, which allows unlimited rail travel across the whole of Norfolk, Suffolk and part of Cambridgeshire.

'While some of our ticket prices have gone up, we're also freezing some fares, including advance fares, which start from just £5 and can be up to 60-70 per cent lower than walk-up fares.'

But business leaders in the region have warned that this will not only stop tourists travelling to destinations on the coast, but will also prevent commuters travelling into Norwich and south to London.

'Local councils, the government, and the rail network need to get together and look at the bigger picture. The high street is under a lot of pressure, and the price increase will mean that fewer people use the train,' said Andy Bullen, secretary of the Sheringham Chamber of Trade.

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'A lot of people come to Sheringham on the train, so this news is far from welcome. A way to increase an incentive to come to Sheringham would be to lower parking costs - but the local councils need the income because so many of their grants have been cut by central government.'

Sheringham was given a boost in the two Saturdays running up to Christmas when all parking charges were waived by the council.

'That was a welcome relief,' continued Mr Bullen. 'People only come to Sheringham when there's shops to go into, and there will be fewer shops if there's fewer customers. Eventually people will just go into the city for a coffee.'

He added: 'We also have commuters going into Norwich from Sheringham, as well as children travelling into school. It won't just affect demand but also supply.'

VisitEastAnglia's executive director Pete Waters said the national season ticket price rise will hit commuters harder than leisure travellers.

He said: 'Of course, we want to encourage more people to use the rail infrastructure for their visits as it's more environmentally-friendly.

'Leisure travel is infrequent and discretionary, and if people book in advance they can still get good prices.'