COMMUTERS have hit out over rail fares, despite season ticket prices for Shenfield dropping.

New fees were introduced on January 2 after the Government set out new guidelines for how much tickets should cost last August.

The new fares are calculated using the Retail Price Index figure, currently 3.2 per cent, plus an additional 1 per cent, although operators can increase ticket prices by up to 5 per cent.

Despite this, Greater Anglia took the step to reduce a season ticket from Shenfield to Liverpool Street by £16 to £2,704.

However, David Kendall, secretary of Brentwood Bus and Rail Users Association, said even though the decrease is good, train users are still being forced to pay far too much during financially tough times.

He added: “We can see no justification for any fare increases this year, particularly when many passengers are seeing no increases in their salaries.

“We believe fares should be frozen for the whole of this year to reflect the tough economic situation and to give commuters a well deserved break.

“Fares have generally kept rising but trains have remained overcrowded and often dirty and we still have no fast trains to London from Brentwood.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said he understands passengers’ frustrations, but said they were only following Government procedures.

He added: “Successive governments have required train companies to increase the average price of season tickets every January since 2004 by more than inflation.

“Ministers want passengers to pay a larger share of railway running costs to reduce the contribution from taxpayers while sustaining investment.

“Train companies are working with the rest of the rail industry to cut the costs per passenger and so give ministers the opportunity in future to move away from their policy of above-inflation annual fare rises.”