Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fleeced on Fares, Now Travellers See Parking Fees Soar

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fleeced on Fares, Now Travellers See Parking Fees Soar

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Prynn and Adebola Lamuye

THOUSANDS of commuters have been hit by a "double whammy" rise in costs after train companies increased station car park charges by up to 11 per cent.

The "stealth" rise was introduced at hundreds of stations in the same week that fares went up by an average of 3.4 per cent. While increases in season ticket prices are capped by the Government and highly publicised, train companies can put up car parking charges by as much as they want and with little or no warning to passengers.

PS10.30 a day Peak daily The Standard has found that daily and weekly parking charges rose by between four and six per cent across most of the major London commuter networks. Some of the steepest rises were in double digits. At Ashford International in Kent, used by 3.8 million passengers a year, the daily peak rate rose by 80p, or 11.6 per cent, from PS6.90 to PS7.70. At Tonbridge, also in Kent, the rise was 70p from PS6.40 to PS7.10, or 10.9 per cent.

Passenger groups condemned the car park charge increases. Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Passengers using station car parks will feel aggrieved with this double whammy of a price hike on the heels of the New Year fares increase. Season ticket commuters in London and the South-East are already among the least content with the value for money of their rail fare."

In some cases the increase in the annual cost of parking will almost match the rise in the price of season tickets. At Chelmsford in Essex, the cost of an annual car park pass is going up by PS97, to PS1,466, compared with a PS136 rise in the season ticket.

In parts of Kent drivers have been asked to pay for station parking spaces for the first time. Commuters from Sandwich had to start paying PS4 a day from last Tuesday. At Wimbledon station an all-day ticket for one of its 30 bays went up by 60p, or 6.2 per cent, to PS10.30.

Train companies said the rises were justified. Southeastern, which raised charges by an average of 5.3 per cent, said: "When we review our commercial arrangements we always take into account the demand for limited parking space and local parking conditions. …

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