Southeastern rail users in London are now paying more than their counterparts in the rest of the capital following Sunday’s hike in train fares.
Passengers will have to fork out up to an extra £84/year for rail-only tickets to central London, simply because their nearest station is run by the troubled firm.
The fare hikes come as a Kent MP accused the company of treating the franchise as “a cash cow” and demanded it be sacked by the government.
Three years ago it was claimed that season tickets would be set at a uniform rate across the capital by 2010 after single and return tickets within London began to be priced on the number of zones passengers travelled through.
But 2011’s fares show that while both sets of passengers would pay £10.80 for a day return to central London, Crayford passengers are charged £1,632 for an annual pass covering the same journey; compared with a £1,548 fee across the Thames at Harold Wood or Rainham.
Even in Zone 2, passengers from Deptford are charged £48 a year more for an annual ticket for a rail-only journey to central London than their counterparts who use the frequent service at Clapham Junction. Both stations charge £4.40 for a day return.
In zone 3, Southeastern is charging £52 more than most other companies, after hiking up the cost of an annual ticket by over 12.5% to £856. Passengers on sister company Southern pay £840 each year, while South West Trains’ charge varies. First Capital Connect, First Great Western and National Express East Anglia sell their annual zone 3 tickets for £804.
The figures would suggest Southeastern is creaming off around £50/year in pure profit from commuters at stations like Greenwich, Maze Hill, Westcombe Park, Lewisham, New Cross, Ladywell and Lee.
The only other London passengers paying more are those on the premium high speed service from Stratford International to St Pancras – which is also run by Southeastern.
The swingeing increases in Southeastern’s fares are supposed to help the company pay for the high-speed services, which run via Stratford and Ebbsfleet into Kent, even though few of its SE London customers are likely to use it.
Despite having the most expensive season tickets in London, Southeastern is also still receiving government subsidy as slower-than-expected development along its high-speed line affected its business model. It has limited room to raise money elsewhere from London passengers as other fares, such as Travelcard rates, are set in conjunction with fellow train operators or Transport for London.
Already this month, MPs have demanded the company’s performance statistics are investigated after it narrowly avoided having to pay compensation to longer-distance commuters for delays from the snow.
|Zone 3 station||Peak return||Weekly ticket||Monthly ticket||Annual ticket||Rail company|
|Catford/ Catford Br||£5.80*||£21.40||£82.20||£856.00||Southeastern/ FCC|
|Crofton Park||£5.80*||£21.40||£82.20||£856.00||Southeastern/ FCC|
|Honor Oak Park||£5.80*||£21.00||£80.70||£840.00||Southern/ London O’ground|
|Crystal Palace||£5.80*||£21.00||£80.70||£840.00||Southern/ London O’ground|
|Streatham||£5.80*||£21.00||£80.70||£840.00||Southern/ First Cap Connect|
|Tooting||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||First Capital Connect|
|Wimbledon||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||South West Trains/FCC|
|Chiswick||£5.80*||£20.50||£78.80||£820.00||South West Trains|
|Kew Bridge||£5.80*||£20.80||£79.90||£832.00||South West Trains|
|North Sheen||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||South West Trains|
|Ealing Broadway||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||First Great Western|
|Cricklewood**||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||First Capital Connect|
|Alexandra Palace||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||First Capital Connect|
|Seven Sisters||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||National Express|
|Tottenham Hale||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||National Express|
|St James Street (W’stow)||£5.80*||£20.10||£77.20||£804.00||National Express|
|Stratford Int’l||£9.20||£27.10||£104.10||£1084.00||Southeastern high-speed|
All fares are paper tickets to London Terminals except ** to “London Thameslink”. *Oyster users are charged up to £5.60 for a return. Harlesden, Stonebridge Park and West Ham stations only sell Travelcards.
Source: National Rail Enquiries / TfL.
|Zone 2 station||Peak return||Weekly ticket||Monthly ticket||Annual ticket||Rail company|
|Peckham Rye||£4.70*||£15.50||£59.60||£620.00||Southern/ Southeastern|
|Denmark Hill||£4.70*||£15.50||£59.60||£620.00||Southeastern/ Southern|
|Clapham Junction||£4.70*||£15.10||£58.00||£604.00||South West Trains/ Southern|
|Putney||£4.70*||£15.30||£58.80||£612.00||South West Trains|
|West Hampstead**||£4.70*||£15.30||£58.80||£612.00||First Capital Connect||Kentish Town**||£4.70*||£15.30||£58.80||£612.00||FCC/ Southeastern|
|Finsbury Park||n/a***||£14.60||£56.10||£584.00||First Capital Connect|
|Hackney Downs||£4.70*||£15.30||£58.80||£612.00||National Express|
|Zone 6 station||Peak return||Weekly ticket||Monthly ticket||Annual ticket||Rail company|
|Ewell West||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||South West Trains|
|Hampton||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||South West Trains|
|West Drayton||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||First Great Western|
|West Ruislip||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||Chiltern Railways|
|Elstree & Borehamwood**||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||First Capital Connect|
|Hadley Wood||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||First Capital Connect|
|Enfield Lock||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||National Express|
|Harold Wood||£10.80*||£38.70||£148.70||£1548.00||National Express|
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless has called Southeastern “not fit for purpose”, and called for the company to be sacked by the government.
“As a regular commuter myself, I sympathise very strongly with hard-working taxpayers who are basically being held to ransom by a company which appears to have little interest in delivering a decent service to commuters, let alone one that provides value for money.
As a former City economist, I simply cannot make sense of Southeastern’s justification for the distribution of the latest fare increases.
The company is simply treating the Kent franchise as a cash cow and does not even appear to be making decisions which are commercially sensible. Southeastern should be stripped of the franchise as soon as possible.”
Erith & Thamesmead Labour MP Teresa Pearce said on Twitter she “agreed” with Mr Reckless, whose comments came after other MPs called for the company’s performance statistics, which determine if passengers receive season ticket discounts, to be investigated.
A break clause in Southeastern’s franchise means it could be sacked in April 2012 if it failed during a year-long review period, which ended last month. The company can also walk away from the franchise at this point. If Southeastern passes the review, then its franchise is extended to April 2014.
Thanet MP Roger Gale has already said the company should “kiss goodbye” to its franchise.
Mark Reckless’s intervention has made me think of two things. While there’s no suggestion that Southeastern is acting in an improper manner, his comments about the way the company operates echo the reason why Connex was sacked in 2003 – for financial mismanagement.
Also, there are 31 MPs in Kent and London commuter constituencies served by Southeastern, 22 of them Conservatives (all 17 Kent MPs are Tories) nine Labour. Of course, both parties have form here, but if they put it aside and joined forces to demand the company’s sacking, would the government be able to resist?