It's official: Southeastern is taking us for a ride
By Sevenoaks Chronicle | Thursday, November 28, 2013, 08:00
TODAY the Chronicle can reveal – once and for all – that Sevenoaks commuters are paying well over the odds.
We pay up to 27% more per mile than Surrey commuters
- We pay up to 27% more per mile than Surrey commuters
- Fare prices are twice that of Metropolitan services elsewhere
- Consumer group: 'They've been milking us for years'
- Next inflation-busting rise to be announced within days
Rail travellers from our local stations shell out up to 39 per cent more than those in Surrey, such as Reigate and Redhill.
And travellers will fork out almost twice as much as someone travelling into other big cities such as Manchester, Cardiff or Edinburgh.
Rail bosses have come under fire after it was announced ticket prices are set to see a hike of around four per cent in the new year. And Tony Clayton, chairman of Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association, wants major reforms to stop rail users being tapped for every single penny.
"The fares per mile show just how much the rail companies have milked the commuters of West Kent," he said.
"Through successive fare rounds they have taken the view that people who work in London and travel from Sevenoaks, Dunton Green, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are captive customers who can be asked to subsidise others.
"We pay between five and 15 per cent more per mile than commuters from further out. We pay nearly 30 per cent per mile more than passengers from Knockholt, who are covered by the TfL fare regime, which we were denied a few months ago."
The Chronicle calculated the cost per mile of an anytime single ticket for a morning trip to the first London terminus from a range of Kent and Surrey stations.
A trip from Sevenoaks station to London Bridge costs 52.3 pence per mile, while a West Malling commuter pays 47.3 pence per mile and a Tunbridge Wells rail user forks out 57.5 pence per mile. Many rail users purchase season tickets to cover their journeys, which reduces the relative cost.
A month-long season ticket from Sevenoaks costs £298.80, which, in a 20-working-day month works out at 34.6 pence per mile.
Kent commuters will have every reason to feel aggrieved as we can reveal the cost of comparable journeys beginning in Surrey is between ten and 20 pence per mile cheaper.
A commuter setting off from Reigate station to London Bridge pays just 37.7 pence per mile. Redhill costs 40.5 pence per mile and Guildford to London Waterloo is 40.3 pence per mile.
Mr Clayton sees this as proof that urgent action needs to be taken to stop commuters being taken for a ride by rail bosses ahead of further price hikes in just over a month’s time.said: “It is interesting to see that Southern Railways, from Guildford, Reigate and Redhill, seems to have a much more even – and lower – range of fares per mile. We understand that DfT and Southeastern Railways justify the higher fares in Kent because of the 'major investment' in HS1.
"But of course this investment has only improved the services from Ashford and East Kent, and has not benefitted West Kent commuters at all.
"What is happening now is simply unfair. In its fares for 2014, Southeastern Railways should be challenged to reduce the discrimination against Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. We have not seen any passenger numbers from the new luxury, low cost coach service to Docklands, but these discriminatory fare figures must be the best advert they could ask for."
A Southeastern spokesman said: "Fares are not set on a pence per mile basis, they’re market led. So fares are set based on passenger volumes from stations and other market conditions. Train operators follow a policy that is set by the government. There are many great value fare offers available which help with the cost of travel. With an annual season ticket you get 40 weeks for the price of 52 - which is 12 weeks free travel as well as additional benefits and discounts."