RAIL travel remains good value but a lack of improvement to services in the North West is frustrating commuters, according to the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association chairman.
Regulated fares increased by 2.8 per cent on average across the country, the smallest rise in four years, however a single ticket from Northwich to Manchester or Chester both rose by more than 3 per cent.
A peak single to Manchester has increased from £9 to £9.30, while the same ticket to Chester has risen from £8.40 to £8.70, increases of 3.33 per cent and 3.57 per cent, respectively.
John Oates, chairman of the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association, was pleased with the low rate of increase, but is concerned at a lack of re-investment in the area.
“It’s good to see the government has cancelled the years of fare increases greater than RPI, originally RPI plus 3 per cent, then RPI plus 1 per cent.
“However, we were told these RPI increases were to fund improvements on the railways, but there have been no improvements to train services on the Mid Cheshire line since these greater than RPI increases started over seven years ago.
“It’s about time the Department for Transport concentrated on improvements in this part of the country.
“Hearing from the Minister that these increases are helping to fund the extension of 140 platforms in South East England for longer trains grates with us, particularly with those of us on the morning and evening peak trains which are very crowded.”
Regulated fares are set by the government, however train companies are allowed a 5 per cent flex and therefore price increases vary across the country.
Mr Oates encouraged commuters to use ‘duo tickets’ if possible as, despite seeing the sharpest increase in price for those travelling to Chester, these provide the greatest value for money.
A duo ticket from Northwich to Manchester has increased from £7.65 to £7.90 per person and to Chester from £6.75 to £7.
“It’s worth remembering that the fares are still good value,” added Mr Oates.
“Especially when taking into account the cost of motoring and car parking and even more so when people are able to use the Duo tickets.”