Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rail Fares May Go Up to Cut Overcrowding; PASSENGER WATCHDOG VOWS TO FIGHT 'DEMAND MANAGEMENT'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rail Fares May Go Up to Cut Overcrowding; PASSENGER WATCHDOG VOWS TO FIGHT 'DEMAND MANAGEMENT'

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

MAINLINE rail commuter fares could be increased in a bid to keep people off the trains and ease chronic overcrowding, it was revealed today.

Rail bosses are considering "demand management" to deal with rising numbers of passengers on peak-time services.

But the move is set to be resisted by passenger groups and environmental campaigners, who fear it will force commuters back into their cars.

Passengers using the busy lines from the west via Reading into Paddington could be among the first to suffer.

The fares warning is in the small print of the Strategic Rail Authority's route utilisation strategy (RUS) document for the Great Western main line.

Now being studied for services across the country including other London routes, the RUS is designed to achieve optimal use of existing facilities and stop overcrowding getting worse.

But Brian Cooke, chairman of the London Transport Users Committee, the capital's passenger watchdog, found its references to "demand management" very worrying. "If they mean fare rises in an effort to reduce demand we would strongly resist this," he said.

The RUS, Mr Cooke said, does "little more than tinker at the edges" of the many problems affecting services serving busy west London stations.

Passengers on the local route from Slough, for instance, are already "beleaguered" by the lack of trains, he pointed out.

He went on: "This strategy fails to take account of economic and demographic development and understates the need for improved services."

The LTUC is concerned it "may well result in severe under-provision of services, meaning congested and poorlyperforming trains".

Another of the committee's concerns is the SRA's "failure to address the peak-hour frequency of trains on the Reading-Paddington line, especially at stations such as Hayes and Harlington, Southall and West Ealing and the proposal to reduce services at Greenford". …

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