Kettering rail fares ‘very expensive’

East Midlands Trains at Kettering railway station NNL-140514-153440001
East Midlands Trains at Kettering railway station NNL-140514-153440001

Kettering’s ‘expensive’ rail fares have been discussed with operator East Midlands Trains.

An off-peak return to London today (Tuesday) would cost £48.50, according to ticketing website National Rail.

But the same style ticket from either Peterborough or Rugby - both similar distances away - could be considerably less.

The issue was raised in a meeting with East Midlands Trains by Kettering MP Philip Hollobone and Chris Groome from the Kettering Rail Users Group.

Mr Hollobone said: “Rail fares to and from Kettering are relatively expensive, compared to other rail fares around the country.

“We effectively have inter-city rail fares, but an increasingly commuter-style service.

“I am frequently surprised, whenever I travel by rail to any other part of the country, by how cheap rail travel is compared to the expensive fares that passengers to and from Kettering have to pay.”

An off-peak return from Peterborough for the same day ranged from £29.20 to £36.20 and people travelling from Rugby could pay £29.50.

Mr Groome, an independent councillor, lives in Burton Latimer and has a son who is studying at university in London.

But when his son returns home from university he travels 28 miles to Peterborough, rather than five miles to Kettering, to pick him up.

He said: “It’s cheaper and it’s a better service with more frequent trains.

“It certainly is an issue for customers.”

East Midlands Trains has a monopoly on the line into and out of Kettering as the only company running trains from the town.

Mr Groome said the competition between companies at other stations could play a part in lower fares there.

He added that a lot of people drive Bedford from Kettering or Wellingborough to get the Thameslink service to London, which is slower but cheaper, from there.

He said: “I do not think the Thameslink service is very comfortable but if people want a rock-bottom price then that is what they do.

“People are very cost-sensitive and £40 or £50, even with a discount card, is certainly very expensive.”

An East Midlands Trains spokesman said they offered a range of fares with singles between Kettering and London available for £19, while some returns between Rugby and London cost £44.50.

The spokesman said: “We offer a broad range of fares between Kettering and London St Pancras, as well as all other routes across our network.

“This includes great value advance purchase tickets and savings for purchasing weekly, monthly, and annual season tickets too.

“In common with other transport providers, the price of a fare set by different operators can take into account factors such as the speed, frequency and available space for customers on the services.

“On average, around 97p in every £1 goes back in to running and improving the railway and we are working with the wider industry and transport focus to consult with customers on how best to improve rail fares right across the country.”