Govia Thameslink has provided clarification on the fares that have been frozen at Reigate, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley and Gatwick Airport stations.
Just before Christmas, Reigate MP Crispin Blunt issued a press release saying that the rail minister, Paul Maynard MP, had agreed some fares wouldn’t go up by the UK average of 3.6%.
The release wasn’t quite clear on whether it was all “regulated fares” or “certain season ticket prices”: but GTR confirmed to us it was “just for seasons”.
Since then, there’s been disappointment on social media that the freeze doesn’t cover all fares, and within that only certain seasons.
Further detail has now emerged: in short, the freeze is all to do with cheaper “Southern-only” tickets available from Gatwick becoming less useful, because more services on the mainline are switching over to Thameslink. GTR says it’s therefore frozen the price of the more expensive seasons that allow travel on both services.
A GTR spokesperson said on Friday:
“Following a review with the Department for Transport, certain season tickets have been frozen at Redhill, Reigate, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley and Gatwick only, in response to the introduction of new Thameslink services on the route.
These Thameslink services replace former Southern services which, as a result, affected the usefulness of a little-used but cheaper Southern-only season ticket from Gatwick Airport to London Bridge (it was only cheaper at these stations and other stations were not affected).
We have frozen the cost of certain season tickets that cost a little more than the old Southern-only fare but allow passengers to use both Thameslink and Southern services – and from May there will be many more Thameslink services direct to London Bridge.
- The Gatwick Airport to London Bridge “not Gatwick Express” season ticket fare has been frozen at the 2017 price.
- The “Any permitted” London season ticket fares from Redhill, Reigate, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley has been frozen at the 2017 price.
- Passengers who have a Gatwick Airport to London Bridge (Southern only) season ticket will be able to get a free changeover to the Gatwick Airport to London Bridge “not Gatwick Express” ticket, enabling them to travel on both Thameslink and Southern services. This will apply only to those customers whose ticket is valid beyond 31 January.”
“London Terminals”, Travelcards etc.
We posed some specific questions to GTR, around the freeze and travelcards, weekly and monthly seasons, and intermediate stations. The GTR spokesperson responded:
“The frozen fares cover Redhill, Reigate, Earlswood, Salfords and Horley to London Terminals, plus the Gatwick Airport to London Bridge Not Gatwick Express.
Gatwick Airport to London Zones 1-6 Travelcards season tickets have moved from Southern Only to Not Gatwick Express to allow extra travel flexibility for the same price. This is to allow customers who use the services that have changed from Southern to Thameslink.
No other Travelcards have been adjusted or other fares frozen because Redhill – Gatwick is the area that is directly affected by the new Thameslink services that were introduced and caused a perceived fares inconsistency.
The good news is the freeze applies to ALL season tickets, from weeklies through to annuals.”
Still a win for the MP and the rail users’ group?
Both the MP and the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users’ Association (of which the MP is chair) initially claimed the “fares freeze” was a positive step in the “Fairer Fares” campaign, which is aimed at addressing the longstanding problem of commuters on the Redhill line paying more than stations further away from London.
We’ll be asking the MP and RRDRUA for an update: both of them have already said they’ve been in contact with officialdom about the confusion, and RRDRUA certainly wants more than just season ticket pricing addressed.
But in the meantime it looks as though a large number of commuters will be making a saving on this year’s season ticket, and are no doubt raising a glass to the volunteers at RRDRUA, who noisily highlighted the “Southern only” ticket problem at the end of last year.
Merstham, Nutfield, Godstone
Adding to the confusion in the Christmas period, at least one news website said Merstham, Nutfield and Godstone were in the fares freeze. That doesn’t appear to have ever been the case, and the piece was quickly amended.