REGARDING increasing rail fares it must be borne to mind that this has been official policy for many years, the contention being that those who use the railway should pay for it, not all taxpayers.
It is the operational costs that need to be and are now being driven down by the industry without compromising safety and further cost savings are being targeted.
First Group, which is bidding for local franchises, has won the West Coast Franchise and has committed to reduce some fares by 15 per cent within the first two years.
Locally some fares are already reducing; Southern has advance on-line fares of £4 on off-peak services to London and has launched an online peak day-save weekly ticket for £80 per week, working in at £16 per working day if used Monday to Friday.
The current Southeastern annual season ticket into Charing Cross is £4,440 working in at around £18.30 return per day based on a 240 day working year. By comparison driving costs including depreciation and daily costs works out around £80 per day.
Through continued lobbying by action groups and politicians, Hastings has cheaper fares than other routes but has some of the most modern electric trains.
There has been recent substantial investment in the Rye and Ashford service. The proposed upgrade of the Coastway signalling will bring better reliability, disruption recovery and the potential for improved service patterns westwards. The Charing Cross line is receiving extra carriages in the peak hours.
A major rebuild of London Bridge will allow improved journeys through that area. The Department for Transport intends to impose sanctions on rain operating companies which do not make major improvements to their public information systems.
SHRIMP and East Sussex Rail Alliance is neither endorsing nor condemning the increases. That is a political argument. But we will continue to liaise with all politicians and the rail industry to encourage further improvements to local infrastructure and services.
MARTIN WOODFINE, St Leonards and Hastings Rail Improvement (SHRIMP)
RAY CHAPMAN, East Sussex Rail Alliance (ESRA)