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Rail passengers are not seeing improvements to train service in Norfolk - despite 'eye-watering' increase in fares

PUBLISHED: 10:28 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:49 03 January 2017

There are delays to journeys between North Walsham and Sheringham after a signalling problem emerged. Picture: James Bass

There are delays to journeys between North Walsham and Sheringham after a signalling problem emerged. Picture: James Bass

(C) Archant Norfolk 2016

The North Norfolk Labour Party made the claim following a protest against a further increase in fares at North Walsham station, on the Bittern Line between Sheringham and Norwich, this morning (Tuesday).

Rail campaigners protest against the increase in train fares at North Walsham station. Picture: STEPHEN BURKERail campaigners protest against the increase in train fares at North Walsham station. Picture: STEPHEN BURKE

Rail passengers are not seeing improvements they desperately need to the train service in Norfolk - despite an “eye-watering” increase in fares.

The North Norfolk Labour Party made the claim following a protest against a further increase in fares at North Walsham station, on the Bittern Line between Sheringham and Norwich, this morning (Tuesday).

It claims the cost of a season ticket between Norwich and London has increased by 27 per cent by £1,672 to £7884 since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

Labour wants to renationalise the rail service in Britain and put passengers ahead of profits. It branded the latest rise in fares “unreasonable”.

After speaking to commuters and students on their first day back at college, Stephen Burke, chair of North Norfolk Labour Party, said: “The cost of travelling by train on average has risen by 27 per cent since the Tories came to power but, despite an eye-watering increase in costs, we are not seeing the improvements we desperately need for our trains here in Norfolk.

“We have been leafleting and making people aware of our plan for the train services which would bring the train services in Britain back under public ownership so that fares are kept down in price, and so that the train system gets the investment it desperately needs. People should come before profits.”

Rail chiefs insisted that for every pound paid in fares, 97p goes back into running and improving services.

They pointed out that the cost of an annual season ticket between Norwich and London was regulated by the government and, over the past three years, the annual average increase of had been less than two per cent - adding that, over the past year, they have only sold two annual season tickets from Bittern Line stations to Liverpool Street.

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “Our average fare increase is 1.8%, which is lower than the national average. Some fares are staying the same including standard singles and returns to London from Norfolk stations.

“We continue to offer great value off peak fares such as advance, super off peak day return, off peak day return, Duo and Kids for £2 deals, as well as Group Save discounts.”

And they added: “We will be introducing a range of new fares and ticket options including Flex Carnet tickets, offering discounts for customers travelling on the same route regularly but not every day, and new advance purchase ticket prices, available up to ten minutes before travel, during the course of our new franchise.”

The train company is investing £5 million to make its existing trains more reliable, which includes working with Network Rail to secure better track, signalling and overhead line equipment.

It is also introducing 18 additional trains in the summer to provide extra seats at peak times.

Commenting on the introduction of new rail fares for 2017, Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Nobody wants to pay more to travel to work and at the moment in some places people aren’t getting the service they are paying for. However, increases to season tickets are set by government.

“Money from fares is helping to sustain investment in the longer, newer trains and more punctual journeys that passengers want. As the railway gets busier, especially at peak times, this investment is more crucial than ever.”

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