RAIL USER groups have slammed the planned 3.2 per cent fare increase due to come into force in January.
The annual rise was confirmed on Wednesday by the Retail Price Index (RPI) which is linked to inflation.
It means an annual pass between Bromsgrove and Birmingham New Street will rise from £1,192 to £1,227.76 and from Droitwich to New Street will go from £1,396 to £1,437.88.
Mike Ponsonby, the chair of the Bromsgrove Rail User Group, told The Standard: “Once again the travelling public is being ripped off with this increase to fares.
“Here in Bromsgrove we have also been forced to pay more because of the CrossCountry trains no longer serving the town.
“It means if we want to go south we have to pay to go 15 miles north to Birmingham New Street and pay to come 15 miles back south as well as the fare to where we want to go.”
The changes came in as the electric trains were introduced meaning a much better northbound service for Bromsgrove commuters.
BRUG members have earmarked three services – the 6.29am from Birmingham New Street to Paignton and the 6.49am from the Second City to Exeter and another in the evening – which could safely stop without any disruption to current timetables.
Mr Ponsonby reiterated his calls for rail users across the district to have their say on the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultation on the CrossCountry franchise before the August 30 deadline. It will determine the shape of the services from 2020 to 2030 and if there is enough support, Mr Ponsonby said, the CrossCountry trains could start stopping at the town again.
Trains to Cheltenham enable travellers to go to the south and south west without having to go via Birmingham.
Alan Humphries, the chairman of Droitwich Rail Users Action Group, labelled the rise ‘disgraceful’ and said it was too much.
“We already don’t get what we pay for – the services we have in Droitwich are the same as they were five years ago, despite the year-on-year increase.
“They say the extra money will go on improvements but we don’t see any difference.
“Many people don’t get annual wage increases as well which means they are hit even harder.
“I’d love to know how they can justify a rise of this size.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling called for future rail fare increases to be based on the lower Consumer Prices Index which would mean a 2.5 per cent rise.