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trainThe rail industry’s powers to increase fares are being curbed as part of the Government’s drive to cut the cost of living and overhaul the existing rail fare system.

The ability of train operators to add an additional five per cent to some individual fares, as long as the average rise of regulated fares is maintained at one per cent above inflation, is being limited to just two per cent as part of the Government’s Fares and Ticketing review published today by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

As well curbing the rise in fares, the review opens the door for future innovations such as the end of paper tickets, a code of conduct for train companies to give passengers the confidence that they are getting the best deal for their journey, and a flexible approach to season tickets which could benefit part-time workers.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “By capping fares we are protecting passengers from large rises at a time when family incomes are already being squeezed. We will need to wait for the rail industry to calculate individual ticket prices for next year, but this cap could save some commuters as much as £200 a year.

“Alongside this, the Government is investing over £16bn to transform our rail network, which will make sure we can respond to increasing passenger demand and drive forward economic growth that will help strengthen our economy.”

The Fares and Ticketing Review sets out the Government’s vision for a modern, customer-focused fares and ticketing system aimed at encouraging even more people to travel by rail and ensuring they have a better experience.

In addition to the limit on the maximum increase in regulated fares, the review includes a range of further measures:

• A Ticketing Code of Practice. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) will oversee the code to ensure that passengers are provided with the information they need to choose the best ticket for their journey and that this information is clear and not misleading.

• Ticket Offices. A strengthening of the rules around how train companies alter opening times at station ticket offices. The Government’s intention is that passenger representative bodies can play a greater role in shaping any changes and ensure that appropriate passenger safeguards are also put in place.

• Flexible Ticketing. The Government is committed to introducing more ’touch in – touch out’ rail tickets across the network which could mean part-time workers receive a discount on season tickets for travelling 3 days rather than 5 or for travelling earlier or later. The Department for Transport’s £45 million South East Flexible Ticketing programme will pilot many of these innovations next year.

• Market Review. The ORR will look into the sale of tickets and consider whether current markets are operating efficiently, effectively, and in the best interests of passengers and taxpayers. The Department has committed to consider any cost-effective recommendations that come out of the review.

• Annual Surveys. ATOC has agreed to release information to customers from next year on how well ticket office staff, ticket machines, and websites perform in regards to selling passengers the best ticket for their journey.

• Single Leg Pricing. The DfT is planning a pilot scheme which will allow passengers to more easily ‘mix and match’ each ticket type when planning a return journey, giving passengers extra confidence that they are getting the best deal on their journeys.

The Fares and Ticketing review can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/rail-fares-and-ticketing-review

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s Written Ministerial Statement on the Fares and Ticketing Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/fares-and-ticketing-review

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s speech to the Rail Industry following the Fares and Ticketing Review: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/fares-and-ticketing-review–2

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BROOK PUMPHand of Stabs, a quirky three-man band known for their improvised shows in unusual settings, will be performing a one-off gig at the Old Brook Pumping Station in Chatham on Saturday, 28 September.

The Royal Albert Hall may have fine acoustics and the O2 Greenwich a show-stopping all round view but neither has a belt driven Blackstone 14 inch Unchokeable Pump on hand to wow the audience.

The 84-year-old water pumping device at The Old Brook Pumping Station, off Solomons Road, Chatham will be getting a new lease of life but this time as a musical instrument. Read More

Rochester station (Malc McDonald) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rochester station (Malc McDonald) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Medway Council’s planning committee last night (11/9) agreed to proposals from Network Rail for a new railway station in Rochester.

The £26million station, which will be built at Corporation Street car park, is part of Network Rail’s East Kent investment programme to improve high-speed rail services, increase capacity, improve journey times and update infrastructure.

It will mean that Rochester’s rail station will be situated closer to the heart of Rochester town centre, which will help businesses in the High Street and boost tourism. Read More

BROOK PUMPThe Old Brook Pumping Station in Solomons Road, Chatham has been completely refurbished.

The station has undergone extensive structural repairs, after a structural survery reveals subsidence was causing the front porch to lean forward and large cracks to appear in the walls. The survey revealed the combination of inadequate foundations and poor soil was the cause. The front porch has now been underpinned. Work during the six-year project included temporary support for the building, new foundations with reinforced concrete, plus replacement doors and ceiling, new signage, landscaping and decorative mouldings. More

A significant step towards transforming and regenerating Medway takes place on Monday (10 October) with the opening of the new Chatham Waterfront Bus Station. More

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