Train fares go ‘off the rails’

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FED-UP commuters in Sheffield branded inflation-busting rail fare rises ‘ridiculous’ as they returned to work after the holidays.

Passengers faced steep hikes on tickets at the city’s railway station - with the average increase nationally said to be 5.9 per cent, although many rose above that to be some of the highest priced fares in Europe.

A 12-month season pass from Sheffield to Nottingham has jumped £148 and 5.9 per cent to £2,532, said rail watchdog Passenger Focus.

Several South Yorkshire travellers had bought season tickets in advance of the changes coming into force, to delay the pain to their pockets.

Sheffield student William East, 22, had already bought all his fares home to Harrogate for the next year.

He said: “My girlfriend gets a monthly ticket to Leeds and she’s noticed it rise by about £50 - it is ridiculous.”

But others had not yet learned of the increase.

Broomhill resident Katie Spooner, 22, was waiting to see how her £18-a-week fare to work with the Refugee Council in Barnsley would be affected.

She said: “I think rail fares are extortionate enough as it is without them going up even more.”

Commuters were urged to vent their anger by contacting the Treasury in a Twitter campaign called Fair Fares now.

Transport unions and campaign groups have criticised the increases, which come after the Government made a basic raise on regulated fares of six per cent.

Larger rises will apply in the next two years.

“This is just the start of three years of real pain for all passengers,” warned TSSA union general secretary Manuel Cortes.

East Midlands Trains, which runs services from Sheffield to London, said its average fare rise was 5.7 per cent, below the national average.

The Association of Train Operating Companies insisted new trains, faster services and better stations would be paid for through money raised.