Delays hit key rail routes as fares balloon

Marion Dakers
DELAYS and cancellations as well as above-inflation fare hikes greeted commuters returning to work after the festive break yesterday.

As the price of a season ticket rose 4.2 per cent and the average fare increased by 3.9 per cent, some rail firms struggled to stay on track.

First Great Western passengers endured the ongoing effects of flooding in the south west and a broken down train blocking routes.

Signal failure caused delays at Victoria station, while overrunning engineering work meant some trains could not stop at Cannon Street or London Bridge.

A freight train hit a car in Oxfordshire, killing one man and causing widespread disruption during the evening rush.

The cost of taking the train to work took up eight per cent of the median salary of £26,082 in 2012, consultancy Hay Group claimed yesterday.

London workers are the worst hit, with season tickets for commutes lasting more than 50 minutes costing a whopping 21 per cent of salaries for those on the lowest pay (see graph). The figures do not include local London travel under the auspices of TfL, which hiked prices by an average of 4.2 per cent yesterday.

The TUC said average train fares have risen nearly three times faster than average wages since the beginning of the recession in 2008.

Transport minister Norman Baker defended the soaring costs, telling the BBC that train travel is “not nearly as expensive as has been presented” if customers seek out the best deal.

The Liberal Democrat conceded that after a decade of above-inflation fare increases, the practice would be ended “as soon as we possibly can”.