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Not a happy new year for commuters in Lewisham

Home / News / Lewisham news / Not a happy new year for commuters in Lewisham

12 January 2012
Train Commuters Yesterday I spoke in a debate in the Commons on the recent increase in rail and bus fares which, combined with rising fuel prices, has significantly increased pressure on household budgets for people across the country.

Despite the Chancellor promising in his Autumn Statement that rail fare increases would rise this month by only 1% above inflation, many people travelling by rail in Britain have seen their tickets hiked by up to 11%.

So many people in Lewisham depend upon trains and buses to get to work – no surprise given that 70% of Lewisham’s working population have jobs located outside of the borough. The 6% increase in Southeastern fares is therefore a real kick in the teeth for local people.

This Government came to power promising to be the “greenest Government ever”. Unfortunately the environmental benefits of public transport and reduction in congestion and pollution will only happen if the alternative to cars is attractive and affordable.

Despite this pledge, regular fare hikes have seen London become the most expensive city for commuter travel in the world. The fare increases are particularly hard to stomach given that there has been little to no improvement in services with overcrowding on trains from Lewisham becoming more of a problem.

But the real issue for me is that these rail fare increases are an extra financial burden on top of rising living costs and reductions in income.

The Campaign for Better Transport estimates that a family where two parents are working can see rail fares and child care for two children swallow 40% of their household income. Adding hundreds of pounds on top of that budget just to allow them to travel into London to work can see real sacrifices having to be made in their household budget.

It is simply unacceptable that constituents are coming to my surgery for advice because they just do not know how they are going to continue to work when their wages and housing benefit has been cut, but their household expenditure is rising and rising. People should not have to be put in a situation where they have to consider leaving their jobs because they just can’t afford to travel to work.

When I ran for election as a Member of Parliament I promised to campaign for a better deal for the people of Lewisham East on trains and buses. I have regular meetings with Southeastern in an attempt to get Senior Executives at the company to realise their responsibilities to the travelling public in South East London.

I will continue to press the Government to end the right of train companies to increase ticket prices by more than the set regulated cap and I will continue to fight for the much needed longer trains and more frequent services on trains running through Lewisham.

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