IN DUNCAN Barkes’ recent column on increased rail fares (Observer, January 5), he states some fares went up by nine per cent in January. He mentions he regularly commutes to London on a morning peak train. An annual Southern season ticket from Chichester to London has increased by 4.9 per cent – a figure a full one per cent below Southern’s average figure of 5.9 per cent for regulated fares, a small amount below the current rate of inflation (RPI @ 5.2 per cent in November 2011 – source ONS) and a long way from the nine percent Mr Barkes refers to. The closest increase to this from Chichester to London is the Travelcard season ticket which has increased by 7.9 per cent.
While it is true to say a standard day single from Chichester to London has increased by eight per cent, season ticket holders have benefited from increases like this, as this allows us to keep increases in some other fares to a minimum.
The rate at which regulated fares increase is determined by the government and our overall regulated fares increase for this year was set at six per cent. Unlike some other train operators, we do not receive a subsidy from the government and instead we pay an annual premium, which increases considerably each year.
Some of the revenue from ticket sales pays for this premium, with the remainder going back into the business to make improvements to our stations, trains and services, to pay increased operating costs and, of course, a small amount is retained as profit.
Unregulated fares are not determined by the government and so this year we have frozen all our Advance fares and many off-peak fares and for those who book online, an additional ten per cent discount is offered, making them even cheaper than last year.