RAIL commuters returning to work after the festive break have been hit with fare hikes of up to 4.4 per cent.
A Northern Rail anytime day return ticket between Sheffield and Worksop has risen from £5.90 to £6.10 while a seven-day season ticket from Worksop to Lincoln has increased by £2.10 to £54.40.
People using the East Midlands Trains Robin Hood Line between Worksop and Nottingham also face further hikes of around four per cent, with the cost of a single journey rising by an average of 52p.
The train operators say they have to take into account a number of factors when setting fares and that a bigger share of railway funding must come from rail users themselves.
Views about the fare changes are mixed among passengers travelling to and from Worksop.
Leigh Footing and Lucy Salmon, both 14, regularly get the train to Retford from Worksop and say the fares will hit young people hard.
Said Leigh: “It’s only 10p extra a journey but it soon mounts up. We don’t have much money as young people and it makes it harder to get out and about and be independent.”
Added Lucy: “It’s getting more and more expensive to use the trains. The trains are always really busy and they need cleaning more - they’re often really dirty.”
Another passenger, who did not wish to be named, said she uses the train every week from Sheffield to visit her son in Worksop. “It’s only gone up 20p a journey but it has gone up a total of £2 in the past few years,” she said.
“I’m on benefits, and with everything else going up, it’s squeezing every spare bit of cash I have - money is getting tighter and tighter all the time.”
But Cat Taylor said train fares still offer better value for money, particularly with the rising cost of fuel.
“I go from Whitwell to Worksop and it’s only gone up 10p. £3.50 for a return and it’s still cheaper than the bus which is £3.90. I know which one I’d rather catch,” she said.
A Northern Rail spokesman said fares will rise by around 10-20p per single journey and will go towards meeting the costs of providing services and funding further customer improvements.
“Travelling with Northern is often cheaper and quicker than the car or the bus for similar journeys, and will remain so in 2013 and beyond. Despite these changes, the cost of our average journey will remain just £2.24,” she said.
“We understand that these are difficult financial times for our customers, which is why we will continue to work with the Government and the wider rail industry to drive down the cost of running the railway to provide better long-term value for money for passengers and taxpayers.”
East Midlands Trains managing director David Horne said railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger. “The Government’s policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train,” he said.
“We know that nobody likes paying more for their travel, especially to get to work. That’s why we are working hard with the rest of the rail industry to make the system more cost-efficient and help take the pressure off future fare rises.
“At the same time, we are investing in our trains and stations to deliver a better railway for our customers.”
For more information on 2013 fares including how to get the best value deals, passengers can visit www.atoc.org/2013fares/finding-the-best-fare.php