Bolton's poorest train users 'will suffer' due to fare changes

Changes are afoot at Bolton Station

Changes are afoot at Bolton Station

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter

BOLTON’S poorest train users will suffer as a result of “appalling” train fare changes, passenger groups have warned.

The Bolton News can exclusively reveal that, as of September 8, off-peak tickets will be banned between 4pm and 6.30pm on weekdays, forcing struggling passengers to cough up extra cash or wait around for hours.

A cheap evening ticket — brought in to help revive town-centre nightlife — will also be scrapped as part of a move transport campaigners have called “shocking” while student leaders claim people will skip class in a desperate bid to save money.

The controversial overhaul means a passenger currently paying £3.90 for an off-peak Manchester-to-Bolton return will now be forced to pay £6.30 to travel in the new evening peak period.

And passengers will no longer be able to buy the £1.95 cheap evening ticket, currently valid between 6.30pm and 9pm.

Already hit by huge tuition fees, a student travelling on that route daily over an eight-month academic year would have to fork out £384 extra when the changes kick in.

Duo tickets, which offer ‘buy one, get another half price’, will not be valid at peak times and neither will some other discounted tickets.

Northern Rail, which is introducing the changes across Greater Manchester and onto Buxton, Alderley Edge, Warrington and Burscough Bridge, claim the Government asked it to make the changes to save taxpayers’ money.

But critics say the rural nature of Northern’s network, which stretches from Derbyshire to Northumberland and beyond, means its trains will always lose money and the Government should not punish people for that.

Andrew Macfarlane, secretary of Greater Manchester Transport Campaign, which lobbies on behalf of passengers, said: “These changes are appalling.

“It will hit some of the poorest train passengers and will have a massive effect on lots of passengers, who will either have to wait around until 6.30pm or pay money they haven’t got.

“The Government lumped together all the least profitable parts of the network under one franchise and then expressed surprise that it doesn’t make money. What were they expecting?

“It shows that those in Whitehall do not understand the north of England.”

Bolton Students’ Union president Arthur Kaddu said: “This is truly shocking.

“This will affect many University of Bolton students who travel here for classes.

“Many of them work evening shifts or have fixed childcare arrangements. Some will just not come to lectures to avoid paying the charges.

“It is a wrong decision and will hit students heavily in the pocket.”

Bolton Council’s transport representative, Cllr David Chadwick, said: “The upside is that it may ease congestion on trains during the evening rush hour.

“But it is going to affect people and I am not happy with a situation where people have to pay more for the service.”

The Bolton News understands that Northern has spent the last few weeks working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to consider alternative cost-cutting options, including starting charging for train station car parks — an idea they rejected.

A TfGM spokesman did not comment on the fact that it helped Northern in its decision-making, and added it would work with Northern to ensure the changes are implemented as effectively as possible.

Northern’s commercial director Richard Allan said: “The majority of customers who travel at peak times, such as those with season tickets, will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening.

“We have consulted extensively with local stakeholders and with Passenger Focus on the detail of this change, which is part of our new franchise agreement that was announced in March.”

A Department of Transport spokesman said: “These changes will help us achieve our long-term economic plan of building a rail network that provides the best possible value for money for the taxpayer.

“They may also help reduce crowding on evening services, as well as contributing towards future service improvements for the benefit of all passengers.

“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.”

A First TransPennine Express (FTPE) spokesperson said it was Northern, as the lead route operator, that was responsible for deciding ticket policy but FTPE was obliged to enforce it.

He added: “The introduction of evening peak restrictions will not affect season tickets and FTPE advance purchase ticket holders and will not affect 80 per cent of our customers.”

Comments (13)

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12:20pm Mon 11 Aug 14

nigella farrage says...

To be fair, this was actually announced on Northern's website and other rail websites when Northern got their franchise extension. It was part of the deal that Northern would have to restrict the off-peak tickets in the evening rush hour in order to try to create capacity of teh trains for the commuters rather than the shoppers and day-trippers
To be fair, this was actually announced on Northern's website and other rail websites when Northern got their franchise extension. It was part of the deal that Northern would have to restrict the off-peak tickets in the evening rush hour in order to try to create capacity of teh trains for the commuters rather than the shoppers and day-trippers nigella farrage
  • Score: 0

12:25pm Mon 11 Aug 14

giraffe89 says...

£6.30 to be squashed into an overfilled carriage? No thanks!
£6.30 to be squashed into an overfilled carriage? No thanks! giraffe89
  • Score: 18

1:24pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Ernagy2 says...

giraffe89 wrote:
£6.30 to be squashed into an overfilled carriage? No thanks!
Only if you travel before 6:30pm. Those travelling after 6:30pm will pay less. Disappointing, but I suppose it's better than increasing the peak hour fee. I can't see how it's going to reduce congestion on the trains mind.Shoppers and old age pensioners must be mad to try and get a train between 4pm and 6:30pm from Manchester to Bolton
[quote][p][bold]giraffe89[/bold] wrote: £6.30 to be squashed into an overfilled carriage? No thanks![/p][/quote]Only if you travel before 6:30pm. Those travelling after 6:30pm will pay less. Disappointing, but I suppose it's better than increasing the peak hour fee. I can't see how it's going to reduce congestion on the trains mind.Shoppers and old age pensioners must be mad to try and get a train between 4pm and 6:30pm from Manchester to Bolton Ernagy2
  • Score: 5

2:07pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Talie082 says...

It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions'
It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions' Talie082
  • Score: 5

4:37pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Chrome1 says...

Latest news from the BN: People who need to eat will suffer most after crops failure. Talk about stating the bleeding obvious.
Latest news from the BN: People who need to eat will suffer most after crops failure. Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. Chrome1
  • Score: 7

5:47pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Reality50 says...

Absolutely appalling. People will just use the bus or stay at home i guess.
Absolutely appalling. People will just use the bus or stay at home i guess. Reality50
  • Score: 7

7:06pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Dusty87 says...

Talie082 wrote:
It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions'
Couldn't have said it better myself. The ticket inspectors don't even look at the dates on the tickets that people show them let alone whether it's a peak or an off peak ticket.
[quote][p][bold]Talie082[/bold] wrote: It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions'[/p][/quote]Couldn't have said it better myself. The ticket inspectors don't even look at the dates on the tickets that people show them let alone whether it's a peak or an off peak ticket. Dusty87
  • Score: 0

7:58pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Andy Higham says...

The period between 4 and 6.30, commonly known as the "rush hour" cannot by any stretch of the imagination be "off peak"
The period between 4 and 6.30, commonly known as the "rush hour" cannot by any stretch of the imagination be "off peak" Andy Higham
  • Score: 1

7:58pm Mon 11 Aug 14

Beyond News Forum says...

Money grabbing b@st@rds...
Money grabbing b@st@rds... Beyond News Forum
  • Score: 4

8:56pm Mon 11 Aug 14

nigella farrage says...

At least be grateful we don't live in Warrington!!!

In Warrington not only are the rail passengers losing their evening peak-time off-peak fares (as is the whole of the Northern Rail network and not just Greater Manchester) but one of the bus companies in the borough are putting their fares up and one of their monthly tickets is going from £56 to £84!!!!
At least be grateful we don't live in Warrington!!! In Warrington not only are the rail passengers losing their evening peak-time off-peak fares (as is the whole of the Northern Rail network and not just Greater Manchester) but one of the bus companies in the borough are putting their fares up and one of their monthly tickets is going from £56 to £84!!!! nigella farrage
  • Score: 0

12:50pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Paypwip says...

Talie082 wrote:
It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions'
There's nothing to check about their tickets. Their off-peak tickets are perfectly valid any time after 9:30am. They might be returning during a peak (busy) time but according to current ticket rules, they are still travelling during what is classed as off-peak. (until 8th Sept)
[quote][p][bold]Talie082[/bold] wrote: It won't change anything - As a regular commuter it is always far busier on the trains during half term and at Christmas periods. The peak services are ALWAYS full of shoppers with shopping bags all over seats, teenagers with feet all over the seats and pensioners with grandkids, these trains are that over crowded the conductor cannot get through so no one actually checks a travellers ticket. People travel into Manchester etc off peak and return on-peak as no one will stop them as no one checks tickets! Not sure who will enforce the 'restrictions'[/p][/quote]There's nothing to check about their tickets. Their off-peak tickets are perfectly valid any time after 9:30am. They might be returning during a peak (busy) time but according to current ticket rules, they are still travelling during what is classed as off-peak. (until 8th Sept) Paypwip
  • Score: 1

12:52pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Paypwip says...

nigella farrage wrote:
At least be grateful we don't live in Warrington!!!

In Warrington not only are the rail passengers losing their evening peak-time off-peak fares (as is the whole of the Northern Rail network and not just Greater Manchester) but one of the bus companies in the borough are putting their fares up and one of their monthly tickets is going from £56 to £84!!!!
Warrington commuters have always lost out as they've never benefited from subsidised fares from Merseyside or Greater Manchester
[quote][p][bold]nigella farrage[/bold] wrote: At least be grateful we don't live in Warrington!!! In Warrington not only are the rail passengers losing their evening peak-time off-peak fares (as is the whole of the Northern Rail network and not just Greater Manchester) but one of the bus companies in the borough are putting their fares up and one of their monthly tickets is going from £56 to £84!!!![/p][/quote]Warrington commuters have always lost out as they've never benefited from subsidised fares from Merseyside or Greater Manchester Paypwip
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Tue 12 Aug 14

Gazo76 says...

As a regular commuter this is welcome news.
However, it must be actioned properly. If they bring something like this into being, then the conductors on the trains must work for their wage during peak times, including checking everybody's tickets properly.
Nothing more infuriating during the holiday periods than prams not folded down blocking entrances to the carriages and walkways on the trains. Will this scare off the Manchester shopper? Time will tell.
As a regular commuter this is welcome news. However, it must be actioned properly. If they bring something like this into being, then the conductors on the trains must work for their wage during peak times, including checking everybody's tickets properly. Nothing more infuriating during the holiday periods than prams not folded down blocking entrances to the carriages and walkways on the trains. Will this scare off the Manchester shopper? Time will tell. Gazo76
  • Score: 1

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