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Londoners hit by secret mid-year fare rises

By Adam Bienkov
25 May 2011, 16:38

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Boris Johnson and National Rail have been accused of secretly hiking fares after they made a series of unannounced rises.

Last Sunday the following off-peak Railcard discounted fares were raised by up to 5%.

  • TfL local fares for zones 12345 and 123456 (£1.75 to £1.80)
  • TfL local fares for three, four and five zones outside zone 1 (90p to 95p)
  • National Rail local fares for zone 1 (95p to £1.00)
  • National Rail local fares for zones 12 (£1.10 to £1.15)
  • National Rail local fares for two zones outside zone 1 (95p to £1.00)
  • National Rail local fares for three zones outside zone 1 (£1.10 to £1.15)
  • Through fares between TfL and National Rail for zone 1 (£1.75 to £1.80)
  • Through fares between TfL and National Rail for two zones outside zone 1 (95p to £1.00)
  • Through fares between TfL and National Rail for three zones outside zone 1 (£1.10 to £1.15)

Fare levels for the year were set in January and there has been no subsequent announcement of any changes.

The rises were first noticed by one commuter Steve Chambers but were only revealed in full after we contacted Transport for London.

Chambers told The Scoop:

I was surprised to learn of these rises after I was charged and was puzzled by the mid-year timing, knowing that fares normally rise in January. Most annoying is the complete lack of publicity, although the database behind the fare finder was updated. The rises appear to target vulnerable groups reliant on discounts.

A spokesperson for TfL said that the fares had been inaccurately calculated in January and that it was now necessary to “correct” them:

At the January fares revision the complex formula for these fares was not yet available so they were set lower than they should have been. However the train operating companies have now provided the relevant information and they were corrected on 22 May.

TfL claim that similar changes are made several times a year and that it is not normal procedure to alert passengers.

The Lib Dem Chair of the London Assembly transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon said that passengers should have been told about the changes:

“Boris Johnson has real form in pushing through fare rises in an underhand way. He has already been caught red handed over his attempt to sneak through fare rises as high as 74% by abolishing Zone 2 to 6 Travelcards this year. I am not aware of previous mid year fare increases and think it is extraordinary that this has been sneaked out. The Mayor should publish his fare proposals for all fares for the year ahead and fully consult Londoners on his plans.

The news comes as the Mayor’s Annual London Survey reveals that 48% of Londoners believe cheaper fares are the area of transport “most in need of improvement.” This is up from 36% in 2009.

Update: (26th May) I was on BBC London talking about this story earlier today:

Adam Bienkov
Adam is a reporter for Politics.co.uk You can find links to his other work at AdamBienkov.com.

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