Bedford and Kempston rail users face yet more bad news as the price of an average rail season ticket is set to rise by up to 2.8% in 2020.
The news comes after research by The Labour Party revealed average season ticket fares in Bedford have risen by 39% since 2010, the year the Conservatives came to power.
This represents an increase of £1,392 per season ticket. Average fares have risen nearly three times faster than wages.
The news of the latest rise hasn’t be welcomed by Bedford and Kempston travellers who have faced railway chaos recently with last year’s bungled timetable changes and the loss of peak time East Midlands Services.
Genna Burchell, who commutes to London every day, says she’s fed up and angry with constantly having to pay more just to get to work.
“I wouldn’t mind the annual increases if I could see a measurable improvement in services and facilities but this year has been horrific,” said Genna.
“More often than not trains are late running and overcrowding is a huge problem so what exactly are we paying for?
“Can we also talk about how they don’t invest in their car parks? Bedford is a commuter town and is growing at a rapid rate but the station car park stays the same size.
“If you’re not there by 7.30am good luck finding a parking space,”
One commuter, who did not want to be named, added: “That’s a big increase. My wages won’t be going up that much.”
The MP for Bedford and Kempston has also slammed the latest news of increases.
“Every year, commuters are being asked to pay more money for bad train services,” said Mohammad Yasin MP.
“As a commuter myself, I am all too aware of the continuous problems faced by Bedford and Kempston rail users.
“I have repeatedly written to and met with Ministers and continually asked questions in Parliament on behalf of long-suffering rail users.”
“The government has sat back and allowed private train companies to cash in while people’s pay has been held back.
“Continuous fare rises undermine efforts to tackle the climate emergency by pricing people off the railway.
“Labour will cap fares bring our railways into public ownership, so they are run in the interests of passengers, not private profit.”
In response, Alistair Burt, the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire said: “I share the immense frustration of my constituents at another fare increase, particularly after a further period of disruption for which rail companies must take the blame.
“I am in regular contact with passenger groups, Thameslink and GNR to express those concerns and demand better service and continued improvements to justify fares.
“The continuing Government rail review must consider how there can be a better balance between quality and fares.”
Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group, who set fare prices across all operators, defended the fare increases, saying: “No one wants to pay more to get to work but by holding rises down to no more than inflation, money from fares will continue to cover almost all of the day-to-day costs of running rail services.
“This means private sector and taxpayer money can go towards improving services for the long term.
“Rail users across the country are already seeing and feeling the benefits of this investment with new trains and more services running across the country.
“People want simpler, better value fares and we want to work with government to deliver our proposals for reforming today’s outdated system to make fares easier for all.”
However, some commuters took a more resigned approach to the increase.
“I’m kind of immune to the increases because you just assume it’s going to go up by ridiculous amount every year, even though the service is going down,” said Helen Patterson.
“They have customers over a barrel. I’ve got no other way of getting to work so without the train I don’t earn my salary. I’m not happy about it but it is what it is.”