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Weymouth rail passengers slam 'unfair fare hikes'
RAIL passengers are set for travel misery as fares increase this month.
Commuters will be paying more as the cost of tickets rises by three per cent.
It is the lowest increase in four years after Chancellor George Osborne capped the rise to the rate of inflation.
Passengers at Weymouth train station said the move will affect people using rail services regularly.
Lee Guillemer, from Weymouth, travels to Parkstone for a course twice a week.
He said: “They do run a good service but even though it doesn’t sound like much, it will add up through the year.”
Pauline Kemp, from Wareham, said: “If fares were going up in proportion to wages it would not be so bad but everything else is stagnant, so it doesn’t really seem fair.”
Malcolm Lewis, from Lincolnshire, added: “Luckily I do not commute so for me it won’t be a lot.
“But for people having to use it every day, I imagine it is very annoying.”
Jane Burnet, of the South and West Dorset Green Party, said: “It’s for reasons like this that we think the rail services should be brought back into public ownership.
“After what happened to the buses in Dorset it is yet again the people who are more vulnerable and have no choice but to use public transport who are going to be the hardest hit.”
Weymouth to Waterloo operator South West Trains said the three per cent will mean passengers will be paying an average of 13p more on every journey.
Managing director of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance Tim Shoveller said: “We are investing fares directly in initiatives that will provide passengers with easier, more punctual and more comfortable journeys.”
He added: “Across the rail industry we are also working hard to get more for every pound we spend, giving the government the scope to hold down fares in future years should it choose to do so.”
The company said that fares help to fund improvements to the service as well as paying for the day-to-day running of the network.
A spokesman said that £65million has been spent on 108 refurbished train carriages this winter to provide more room for passengers.
Weymouth to Bristol line operator First Great Western welcomed the move to cap the fare increase.
Managing director Mark Hopwood said: “We welcome the government’s decision to peg regulated fares to inflation, which will also be appreciated by our customers.
“A consequence of this announcement is that all of our fares for travel after January 2, 2014, had to be recalculated, checked and inputted into the industry fares systems in much less time than it would normally take.
“We will be working around the clock to make that happen.”
Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “We made extra money available so fares did not rise above the inflation rate. We are a government that is protecting the consumer today and investing in the future.”
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