Rail passengers face 400 per cent rise in fares
Train operators have extended peak periods on some services, leading to a four-fold increase in rail fares for rush hour travel travellers.
According to a recent BBC survey, more than 180 services a week have been rescheduled by South West Trains and Virgin Trains alone.
Operators admit to the sneaky switch, which has been done behind the back of rail regulators, but say it will affect only a small minority of rail passengers.
South West Trains has stretched its peak period to span from 4pm to 7pm and Virgin has extended its peak period by 35 minutes in the morning and 28 minutes in the afternoon.
Only six months ago South West Trains was proudly boasting that it planned to reduce fares for millions of passengers this year. It claimed that switching 114 trains from off-peak to peak charging affected only eight per cent of its services, but the fare increases were described by the rail watchdog Passenger Focus as 'astronomical'.
Virgin said that less than four per cent of its services had been shifted into the peak charging period and it stressed passengers could save money by buying tickets in advance and online.
However, there is no getting around the fact that some Virgin passengers who previously made savings by travelling outside the rush hour will now have to pay peak prices, leading to a 400 per cent increase in their rail fare.
Edward Welsh, of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the 'vast majority' of travellers have seen fares fall, stay the same or rise below the rate of inflation this year.