Rail commuters have some good news for 2018: season ticket prices will be frozen at Reigate, Redhill, Earlswood, Salfords, Horley and Gatwick, according to a press release from Reigate MP Crispin Blunt.
Prices had been due to rise from 2 January in line with the UK-wide average of 3.6% for regulated rail fares.
The news that the increase won’t be happening locally is a win for the Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users Association (RRDRUA) and their “Fair Fares” campaign.
RRDRUA have been calling for a solution to the anomaly of tickets to London from the Redhill area costing more than stations further away from the capital.
The group, accompanied by their president, Reigate MP Crispin Blunt, last week met rail minister Paul Maynard MP.
According to Mr Blunt’s press release, the rail minister, as well as announcing the freeze, has also started further work on the fares issue (known as the “Redhill Hump”) with a view to making changes before the end of the current GTR franchise in 2021.
And there’ll be another look at whether the May 2018 timetable can be improved for Redhill commuters (“but all parties recognise the difficulty”).
Concessions have also been made to holders of cheaper “Southern only” tickets who may otherwise lose out from the switching of some services over to the “Thameslink” brand (official word below).
What is being frozen?
The MP’s press release isn’t crystal clear on whether it’s all “regulated fares” or “certain season ticket types” having their cost frozen at the named stations. GTR (who run both the Southern and Thameslink networks) have since confirmed to us that it’s “just for season tickets”. No announcement with more detail has yet been made by GTR.
Reigate MP reaction
Until now Crispin Blunt hasn’t had much tangible success with fellow Conservative politicians on local rail issues – despite his arranging meetings with ministers, writing fairly trenchant letters, and backing a commuter strike. Commenting last week on the meeting with Paul Maynard, he said:
“After a prolonged campaign for fairer fares, I’m delighted that Redhill and Reigate rail users have been given a Christmas present in the form of this fares freeze and a ministerial commitment to try to address the historic anomaly of higher fares for passengers using Redhill, Reigate and other local stations.
Our campaign has been going since 2014 and I am grateful that we have a rail minister who is finally demanding regular updates on how the system can address the unfairness to local commuters.
Paul Maynard has listened to the concerns that the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users’ Association and I have raised with him and has given this issue his personal attention. I want to thank him for his openness, responsiveness and commitment to rectifying the ‘Redhill Hump’.
I am obviously very pleased that we have been given a fares freeze as a first step. It’s a nice note on which to go into the Christmas season and I would like to thank all the rail users who have given their active support to this campaign.”
Stephen Trigg, chair of RRDRUA, commented:
“I’m delighted our hard work at RRDRUA (being assisted in Parliament by Crispin) is finally being recognised by the Department for Transport, and that the passengers along the Redhill Route are finally starting to get the treatment they deserve.
Thank you, Paul Maynard, for taking the bull by the horns and getting us a small start along the route to fair fares and we look forward to helping the department with further improvements in 2018.”
“Southern-only” holders and Thameslink
With more services switching from Southern to Thameslink, RRDRUA has been raising concerns about the impact on passengers who may hold cheaper “Southern-only” tickets, and this was reportedly discussed at the meeting. The official word on a Southern FAQs page reads:
“My train has changed from a Southern service to a Thameslink service and I hold a “Southern only ticket”. Is my ticket still valid?
If your ticket says ‘Not Gatwick Express’ or ‘Any Permitted’ then you can continue to travel as usual. If you have a ‘Southern only’ ticket, this will be valid for travel up until 31st January 2018 on the new Thameslink trains. After this time, you will need to change your ticket for a ticket that says ‘Not Gatwick Express’ or ‘Any Permitted’. Please speak to the staff in the ticket office on how to do this. If you hold a season ticket with an expiry date after 31st January, please visit the station to change your ticket free of charge as soon as possible.”
Last updated 1 January 2018.