Rail passengers heading into London have had the cost of fares increased by up to 29 per cent, it was claimed this week.
London Midland, which runs the Bedford-Brighton route, has changed the restrictions on off-peak fares so that passengers cannot use cheaper tickets until one hour later.
The Association of Public Transport Users (APTU) say this will particularly hit low-paid workers who need to be at work by mid-morning.
But rail chiefs reckon they are being fair with fares, as other travellers may save money in the ticketing shake-up.
APTU chairman Neil Middleton said: “This will be very painful for passengers who want to travel just after the rush hour. In particularly I’m thinking of people who want to go to London with their children who will be cost- conscious, or people in industries like hospitality which can be quite low paid.”
Under the previous ticketing system, passengers could buy a return ticket from Bedford to London for £23.10 if they travelled after 9.10am.
Passengers will now have to wait until 10.10am, or else shell out £29.10.
Passengers from Flitwick are also affected by the change.
Off-peak tickets to London cost them £18.90 - but if they want to travel before 10am they will now need to spend £24.40.
But a spokesman for Thameslink Trains claimed that the change would save passengers money.
They said: “Based on passenger feedback, we have removed a very unpopular restriction preventing Off Peak passengers from travelling home in the evening peak, between 4.30-7pm. The Off Peak ticket from Bedford is priced at £29.10 and saves passengers £11.80 on the full-priced £40.90 Anytime ticket that they had to buy previously to travel home at this time.
“It saves passengers even more if they are travelling with children because kids go for just £2 each on an Off Peak ticket - an offer not available with an Anytime fare. So one adult and four children can travel to London arriving after 09.59 and come home during the evening peak for just £37.10 - previously this would have cost £122.70.”
“The low £23.10 weekday return fare to London from Bedford is still available, with a new name ‘Super Off Peak’, although, the start time of these tickets is now around an hour later in the morning than before.
“Creating three weekday tickets - Anytime, Off-Peak and Super Off Peak - gives our passengers a variety of different options to suit their needs, improves passenger experience by spreading journeys across a wider number of trains and creates more space in busy peak times.”