Norwich to London rail fares to rise by �2,000

Transport secretary Philip Hammond is being urged to go back to the drawing board on rail funding after figures showed that passengers using the London to Norwich line face season ticket hikes of nearly �2,000 in the next four years - the second highest hikes in the country.

From next year the government has said that rail companies will be allowed to raise fees for train fares based on a funding formula of the retail price index plus 3pc.

But research by the Campaign for Better Transport shows that Norwich will be second only to Swindon for the costliest season tickets with prices rising from �6,540 in 2011 to �8395.41 in 2015 and increase of �1,855.41.

Alexandra Woodsworth, Campaign for Better Transport's public transport campaigner, said: 'Commuting costs are already a difficult burden, with some people now paying out a quarter of their salary on train fares. Unfortunately, it's set to get much worse, as the Government's planned fare increases outstrip pay rises four to one. With inflation so high, and Norfolk families being squeezed on all sides, it's time for the Government to rethink its punitive fare hikes.'

Maria Eagle, Labour's shadow transport secretary said the government needed to rethink the inflation-busting increases.

'For many, the cost of getting to work is now the biggest single item in the monthly budget, bigger even than rent or mortgage payments,' she said. 'With train fares set to rise four times faster than wages in the next year, ministers should think again and give commuters a break.'

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said: 'The scale of the deficit means that the government has had to take tough decisions on future rail fares. Revenue from fares enables the Government to continue to deliver much needed improvements on the rail network, improving conditions for passengers and helping to strengthen economic growth.

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'We have already committed to one of the biggest programmes of rail investment for a hundred years which will deliver more than 2,100 new rail carriages, a �900m programme to electrify more rail lines and completion of the vital Crossrail and Thameslink projects.

'The long term solution is to get the cost of running the railways down, that way we can get a better deal for passengers and tax payers. If we succeed then I hope we will see the end of above inflation average rises in regulated fares.'

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