Reigate MP Crispin Blunt says he will take the Oyster Zone 6 campaign to the rail regulator, following a letter from Rail Minister Claire Perry MP rejecting the proposal.
The “fair fares” campaign to extend Zone 6 to Redhill, Reigate, Merstham, Earlswood and Salfords stations was set up by the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users Association (RRDRUA), and was supported by Mr Blunt.
In October the MP and RRDRUA presented an e-petition (then containing nearly 3,000 signatures) to Ms Perry, highlighting service reductions and reliability issues, and making the case for lower and simplified fares by introducing Zone 6. Local travellers to London currently pay higher fares than from some stations further away from the capital such as East Grinstead and Three Bridges.
Ms Perry said, in her latest letter of 16 December:
“I did indicate that I am supportive of simplifying fares and making rail travel easier but it must be for the whole region and not one part of it. Therefore, I do not believe that a move to put Redhill into Zone 6 as a short term solution to be reviewed in 2018 would be appropriate.”
Among other points in her letter, the minister said that she continues to monitor performance and that the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, have agreed a £4.1 million package of improvements to address performance issues on the Southern route.
Prior to Christmas, Mr Blunt said of the response:
“Passengers from Redhill and other local stations are at a serious disadvantage. They are paying higher fares than comparable stations elsewhere in the region, they are bearing the brunt of reduced services and disruption, and in recent weeks the service has fallen apart completely. Ministers and the Department for Transport can’t just brush this unfairness under the carpet.
We made a proposal for Zone 6 which could have been revenue neutral. No serious effort has been made to rectify the injustice of commuters paying premium prices for substandard services. Unfortunately, we have been fobbed off.
I will be seeking a debate in the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity. I will also be making a complaint to the Office of Rail and Road to see whether they, as the regulator, can investigate and do something to deliver some justice for passengers.”
Claire Perry 16 December 2015 (opens 4MB PDF – we’re working on reducing the file size)