A mum whose children travel by train between Corby and Kettering to get to and from school has made a plea to reduce fares for youngsters.
Claire Going sent an open letter to East Midlands Trains’ managing director Jake Kelly after working out that next year she will be forced to fork out £267 a month for her three children.
She said: “I am one of many parents in the East Midlands whose children use the train to get to and from school.
“I have been very happy with the service over the past three years that they have used the Corby to Kettering route, and am extremely pleased that East Midlands Trains is investing in line improvements, as a result of the increased popularity of Corby station.
“However, I am a single mum, and a full-time student. I have just taken on a third part-time job to be able to pay my bills and provide for all the things my children require.
“My son will soon be going to the same school as his two sisters, and next December two of my children will be over 16 and in full-time education.
“This means that I will need to find the money to be able to pay two adult fares and one child fare to enable my children to attend their school.
“That’s a total of £267 on train fares every month, and that’s if they don’t increase by then. It’s over £100 more than it would be if I was paying three child fares.”
Ms Going says that while there is the option of a railcard, it still works out cheaper to buy a season ticket at adult prices.
She added: “I have no objection to paying train fares and I am happy with the service, but what I can’t seem to fathom is why a 16-year-old, in full-time education, is required to pay a full adult fare.
“In almost every other place being in full-time education (which is now required of all 16 and 17-year-olds by law) means that discounts are applied, and although I know that there is the option for the 16-25 railcard, this costs money to buy, and only offers a third off the fare, so it is still cheaper to buy a full-fare season ticket, which is what I currently do.
“This is a ridiculous state of affairs. Surely you must understand that it is unfair to ask a child (and until they are 18, they are still children) to pay the same as a working, earning adult.
“The only option I have is to expect my children to go out to work at the weekends and in the evenings, in order to help pay for their rail fares.
“Does this seem fair to you? If teenagers choose to work, they should have the freedom to spend their hard-earned money on the things that matter to them, not on supporting the rail network.”
Now the mum hopes that East Midlands Trains can be ‘trailblazers’ and implement a fairer system.
She said: “I am aware that others have petitioned Parliament about this, but their petitions have been rejected as it is not within the Government’s remit – it is up to the rail companies.
“Hence I am writing to you. East Midlands Trains have the power to be the trailblazers, the first to implement a truly fair system.
“Just think of the positivity that would come your way, and the extra business too – I personally know a number of people who choose to drive their teenagers to school because they cannot afford an adult train fare.”
An East Midlands Trains spokesman said: “There is a national ticketing policy, which all train companies have to follow, which currently states that adult fares come into effect at the age of 16.
“East Midlands Trains is looking to the industry and the Department for Transport to work together to address issues such as this and ensure that all passengers can get the best value fare for their journey.
“We do offer a range of value fares on our network and students in full time education can benefit from a season scholar ticket which provides a 15 per cent discount on fares and allows travel during peak times.
“We are in the process of contacting all schools in the area to make them aware of the discounted scholar season tickets option and to provide information to parents.”