Tonbridge commuters ‘ripped off because they can afford it’
by Andy Tong | 9th January 2019
THE New Year rail fare increases mean commuters travelling from Tonbridge to London are paying £150 per mile each year – almost double the sum for passengers further down the line.
An average of 3.2 per cent has been added to season ticket prices, and for an annual fee of £4,364 from Tonbridge, the 29.1 mile journey carries a price tag of £149.7 per mile.
In contrast, the 61.8-mile journey from Hastings at the end of the line into the capital costs £4,988 a year, which equates to £80.71 a mile.
John Reynolds, chairman of the local pressure group Tonbridge Line Commuters, said: “Vince Lucas, the former boss of Southeastern, once told us they thought the market will bear higher fares per mile because there’s a greater degree of affluence compared with Hastings.
“Up to a point, he’s right, but not as far as this sort of discrepancy,” he added.
'People travel up to London to do jobs in low-paid professions like nursing and cleaning'
“We are being unfairly treated – we are being ripped off because they think we can afford it.
“In any case, there are pockets of poverty in and around Tonbridge, and people travel up to London to do jobs in low-paid professions like nursing and cleaning.
“And if you compare us with commuters who go to London from Redhill, we’re paying far more.”
Mr Reynolds warned the rising costs, allied to consistent problems with the service, meant workers might choose less environmentally friendly modes of transport.
“The Treasury are doing their best to make train travellers pay as much as possible,” he said. “That ignores the social cost of more people using cars.
“You’ve only got to stand outside Tonbridge station and if there’s no wind, the air quality and the fumes from the traffic are foul.
“That puts pressure on the NHS, as does the severe stress of being stuck in traffic jams which raises the blood pressure.
He believes the price increases are being used to fund hugely expensive high-speed projects.
“We fear we are being used to subsidise HS1, which goes nowhere near Tonbridge,” he said.
“They say that it will benefit businesses in the South East but I cannot see it.”