by Richard Williams | August 27, 2021
Commuters from Tunbridge Wells to London can expect to pay around £ 250 more per year from January, with the biggest fare hikes expected in a decade.
If ticket prices are based on the same government measure as last year, fares are expected to increase by about five percent.
The increases are generally linked to the retail price index from the previous July [RPI] a measure of inflation, plus an additional percentage point.
The Office for National Statistics confirmed last week that the RPI for July was 3.8%, meaning that a repeat of the policy next year would result in an average tariff increase of 4.8% – the largest increase since 2012.
The record hike would mean that a standard annual London pass from Tunbridge Wells would increase by £ 242, from £ 5,046 to £ 5,298.
Commuters who also depend on the metro can expect their £ 5,864 season ticket and Travelcard to increase by £ 281, to £ 6,145.
If fares increase as expected, that means commuters will have to earn up to £ 9,000 before tax (£ 10,500 for higher rate payers) just to pay for their commute.
The news comes as the rail network struggles to attract commuters following the Covid crisis.
About 2.8 million fewer trips were made from Tunbridge Wells station in 2020/21, as domestic passenger numbers plummet to their lowest level since 1872.
Southeastern, which provides train services to Tunbridge Wells, Crowborough and surrounding areas, has seen passenger numbers drop to 22.4% from pre-pandemic levels.
Tunbridge Wells station has seen its seasonal season tickets drop from 3,472 per day to just 1,041.
A number of employers have since said they will continue to combine working from home and work in the office rather than having employees return to full-time.
Some employers have also argued that a move towards more homeworking could lead to lower wages, with companies based in cities like London often paying higher wages to cover travel costs.
Tech giant Google has previously told office-based workers before the pandemic to expect to see pay changes if they move to work from home permanently, with commuters on longer trips the most. hard hit.
John Reynolds, vice chairman of local railroad lobby group Tonbridge Line Commuters, told the Times rail fares should not be based on RPI.
He said: “Any increase in rail fares should be based on the CPI [Consumer Price Index], a lower index that the government uses to calculate most other things, including public sector pay increases.
“Some people, especially essential workers in low-paying jobs, do not have a realistic alternative to using trains and should not be penalized.
“Rail is a very efficient method of moving large numbers of people (and goods) without causing as much pollution or congestion as, for example, road trips.
“Making the fares more expensive will turn off a lot of people. As we get back to normal, pleasure travel also increases and tourist spots would welcome visitors by train rather than having to build more parking lots. “