MP rails against rising cost of train travel

PUBLISHED: 09:29 15 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:58 11 May 2010

ANDREW LANSLEY

ANDREW LANSLEY

MP ANDREW Lansley has expressed his concern about the increased cost of rail travel for commuters. His comments come in the wake of train operator First Capital Connect announcing that it will be increasing its car parking tariffs on February 2. Mr Lansle

THE car park at Royston Station.

MP ANDREW Lansley has expressed his concern about the increased cost of rail travel for commuters.

His comments come in the wake of train operator First Capital Connect announcing that it will be increasing its car parking tariffs on February 2.

Mr Lansley, the South Cambridgeshire MP, said: "I am very concerned that many of my constituents are being held to ransom by the 'scheme of improvements' in the area, currently being carried out by First Capital Connect.

"Despite widespread public reservations about their car park upgrades, it seems First Capital Connect is intent on bringing these facilities into the 'proactive management' of their parking contractors, NCP."

Recently, charges have been introduced at station car parks in Meldreth and Shepreth, which were previously free.

"With rising fuel costs, and our commitments to tackle climate change, the Government and rail companies should be encouraging the increased use of public transport; not imposing additional costs that will be driving people off the train," said Mr Lansley.

"The recent rail fare rises, combined with the parking charges being imposed by First Capital Connect, are forcing many families to fork out hundreds of extra pounds annually that they simply do not have.

"While I accept that improvements to our rail infrastructure are required, there is a real need to consider what it is reasonable to ask commuters to pay, and what the regulatory constraints are on fares and parking charges, so customers are protected, and to ensure that costs only rise if services really improve."

David Burns, customer service commercial manager at First Capital Connect, said that the firm understood that changes to parking rates "are not always welcomed by customers".

However, he said: "After comparing our tariffs to those of car parks located near our stations, and other station car parks, we are confident that our car park facilities and services offer value for money and reflect the investment made.

"We will continue to invest in upgrading and improving our car parks, and have invested in 10 new developments.

"Going into 2009, we will continue to explore other opportunities to support sustainable travel, including car share and liftshare, and reducing parking charges for electric and other 'green' vehicles."

Mr Burns added that information teams would be on hand at all stations until January 21, providing travellers with literature about the new tariffs.

Further details can be found at www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk

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