The hike in rail fares has delivered a new blow to students – and could mean future generations are priced out of coming to Chichester, the city’s college has warned.
The increases, which includes a 5.8 per cent rise for regulated tickets, are bad news for students travelling on train services to the city’s schools, college and university.
A large number of students travel from Portsmouth in the east, and Worthing and Brighton in the west, during the school term, Monday to Friday. And prices are still expected to soar over the next few years.
The future looks bleak for most students, already burdened with worries of affording university fees, and the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance this month.
Student Thomas Begley, who travels from Chichester to Worthing every other day, said: “You really have to think about the amount of money you can spend in advance now.
“I think train passengers are suffering.
“The train fares here are the most expensive in Europe and for no real reason.
“I am lucky because the council has paid for my ticket. But if I am travelling to somewhere like Brighton, that’s not paid for.”
Head of marketing at Chichester College Helen Ward said the combination of the scrapping of the EMA for new applicants and increased rail fares ‘could potentially impact on students’ choices of destination for further education’.
She said: “This is because of increased travel costs, together with reduced income, and could mean some students are restricted to attending their local college or sixth form rather than one they feel will best meet their educational and personal development needs.”
The college said it will find ways of helping students get better-priced rail travel. The rail fare rises of 5.8 per cent in regulated fares – season tickets and standard-day returns – are tickets used by those travelling daily or those who have to get to their destination before 10am, in the case of London, or 9.15am elsewhere.
The train service from Portsmouth to Brighton was £21.20 for an off-peak return. This has now been increased to £22.40. Travelling to London from Chichester was £27.60 – this was increased to £29.20.
One 19-year-old student at Chichester College, who didn’t want to be named, noticed the price of his ticket from Chichester to his home in Littlehampton had increased by 30p. He said this will be costly as he can no longer get EMA under the new rules.
Trevor Tupper, treasurer of the West Sussex Rail Users Association, said: “This is a huge increase, partially offset perhaps for some by the reduction of one per cent in similar tickets last year, but it is still twice the rate of inflation at a time when many rail users are getting little or nothing in pay rises, or even losing their jobs.
“The signs are fare increases will continue to outstrip inflation over the next few years.
“It’s doom and gloom all round.”