Anger as Sheffield rail passengers hit by 3.2 per cent rise in fares

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A rail user group has slammed a planned 3.2 per cent train fare increase set to hit thousands of Sheffield commuters next year.

The rail industry announced yesterday that the rise will affect regulated rail fares, which includes season tickets on most commuter routes, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities.

George Arthur.

George Arthur.

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The price hike is due to come into force in January next year and is based on figures provided in July by the Retail Price Index (RPI), which monitors inflation rates.

National Rail Inquiries said the new prices are not available until September, but based on the 3.2 per cent rise an annual pass between Sheffield and Doncaster would go up by about £32 from £1008 to £1040.

The move has been criticised by George Arthur, secretary of the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders - a campaign group which represents elderly and disabled passengers.

The 67-year-old former teacher, of Barnsley, said: "We would have liked to have seen the prices frozen because they have gone up year after year.

"And of course the standard of service has not gone up, it has gotten worse."

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This comes after a charity claimed unreliable and expensive public transport in Sheffield is leading to job seekers having to think twice about employment opportunities.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation called for a redesign of the Government’s transport, housing and economic policy, after its research revealed public transport was 'holding back' low-income families from achieving a better standard of living.

Yesterday's rail fare rise has also been poorly received on a national level.

There have been calls by Labour politicians for fares to be frozen for passengers in the north following chaos caused by the implementation of new timetables in May.

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Pressure group Railfuture claimed train passengers are being treated like “second-class citizens compared to motorists.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “Fares are underpinning a once-in-a-generation investment plan to improve the railway and politicians effectively determine that season ticket prices should change in line with other day-to-day costs to help fund this.”