Northern Rail evening peak rail fares take effect

train ticket machines Image copyright Northern Rail
Image caption Customers who use off-peak tickets will have to travel before or after the evening peak time

Protests have taken place at railway stations after peak evening fares started to take effect on several rail routes in the north of England.

The change, affecting services run by Northern Rail, means some weekday tickets will go up in price by 117%.

The company said off-peak tickets would no longer be valid on several routes in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire between 16:01 and 18:29.

RMT union said the hike was a "kick in the teeth for the travelling public".

The move will also affect the Newcastle to Hexham line and some routes to Derbyshire and Cheshire, the company added.

Northern Rail said changes were being made because the Department for Transport (DfT) asked them to "generate additional revenue" as part of its franchise agreement.

Additional affected routes

  • Alderley Edge - Manchester Stations / Salford Crescent / Salford Central via Stockport or Styal
  • Burscough Bridge - Manchester stations
  • Buxton - Manchester stations / Salford Crescent / Salford Central
  • New Mils Central - Manchester stations / Salford Crescent / Salford Central
  • Warrington Central / Bank Quay - Manchester via Birchwood or Earlestown
  • Skipton - Bradford / Leeds
  • Knaresborough - Leeds

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said the move meant the cost of a Wigan to Manchester Piccadilly return ticket had risen from £4.20 to £9.10 (up 117%).

A return ticket from Bradford to Leeds return goes up from £4.60 to £6.50 (up 28.3%).

Protests were held at stations including Manchester Victoria, Manchester Piccadilly, Sheffield and Liverpool Lime Street.

'No flexible tickets'

A Department for Transport spokesman said the changes would help build a "rail network that is better for the passenger and better value for the taxpayer".

He said: "Such restrictions are relatively common on other parts of the network, including in the Merseytravel area, and we expect only a minority of passengers to be affected."

Image copyright Fair Fares Now
Image caption Protesters gathered at several stations, including Manchester Victoria

Martin Abrams, from CBT, said: "This fare increase threatens to make rail travel unaffordable to tens of thousands of part-time workers.

"Despite government promises, there are no flexible tickets for the increasing numbers who work part-time or anything other than traditional nine-to-five hours.

"Their only option is to pay for individual tickets, which will now be double the price on Northern Rail's most popular routes."

On Sunday, the Chancellor George Osborne said commuter rail fares in England would be frozen in real terms for another year.

Regulated fares, which include season tickets and "anytime" singles, will rise by a maximum of 2.5% from January.

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