Southern fares to rise by nearly two per cent

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Southern and Gatwick Express fares will rise by an average of nearly two per cent at the start of 2017.

But rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway said there is ‘good news’ that its passengers will be the first to benefit from Delay Repay 15 from Sunday December 11, which reduces the threshold for compensation after delays from 30 to 15 minutes.

Southern passengers have endured months of misery due to staff shortages, train problems, and infrastructure issues such as signalling failures.

The problems have come during a protracted dispute between GTR and the RMT union over proposals to introduce driver-only operation on Southern routes, with nine strikes held in 2016 and another three planned before the end of the year.

Meanwhile train drivers’ union ASLEF has also announced its intention to hold several strikes over the next two months.

Fares will rise by an average of 1.8 per cent from January 2, in line with annual increases of other train operators, it was confirmed today (Friday December 2).

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, said: “Our passengers have had to endure many months of disruption and misery due to industrial action and poor performance and for that I am truly sorry. While they have clearly been able to claim under our Delay Repay scheme, we welcome this additional compensation package.

“It is also good news that our passengers will be the first to benefit from Delay Repay 15 as it is something our passengers have been telling us they want for some time. Our aim is always to get passengers to where they want to go on time, but if we don’t, it is right that they are compensated.”

Rail minister Paul Maynard added: “Getting Southern rail services back on track is a priority for the government and I know that what passengers want most is a reliable service. But when things do go wrong it is right that we compensate people who have not had the service that they deserve. This is a gesture in recognition of the problems people have faced.

“We’re working hard to get Network Rail and Southern to improve this network and get this railway working the way people expect. We are investing record amounts in improving our railways and we need everyone in the rail industry, including the unions, to work together to deliver for passengers.

“In addition from next week (December 11) passengers will be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late. This is a major improvement for passengers.”

GTR, has the details of most season ticket holders who will have given their details when purchasing their tickets, and will be inviting them to log into a website to claim compensation - which can be transferred directly to their bank account or claimed as vouchers.

Customers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between April 24 and December 31 to be eligible.

Under Delay Repay 15, GTR passengers will be able to claim 25 per cent of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes, with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.

The existing ‘Delay Repay’ thresholds are as follows:

· 50 per cent of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes,

· 100 per cent of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more,

· 100 per cent of the return fare for delays of two hours or more.

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