Train fares creep despite commuter anger

Illawarra commuters will start paying more for their train tickets from this week, with fare increases having come into effect from yesterday.

The cost of an adult weekly train ticket has gone up by $1 a week, while the cost of a single one-way ticket has risen by 20¢.

The rises are in line with inflation and lower than the 4.8 per cent recommended last year by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, which was rejected by NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

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"We have always said that fares will only increase in line with CPI until there are demonstrable improvements in customer service, and while we are seeing a significant change for the better, we believe there is still work to do," she said at the time.

Commuters, many of whom are still upset with disruption cause by timetable changes introduced in October, are unlikely to be thrilled, however.

Acting Opposition Leader Linda Burney spoke out against the price rise.

"It's a new year and Barry O'Farrell has got his hands in the pockets of commuters once again," she said.

"Fare creep under this government has been relentless - even as commuter complaints soar, buses and trains run late and in many cases are dirty, unsafe and overcrowded.

"The Premier has considerable gall to raise fares after botching the rewrite of the train timetable and cutting peak-hour services right across Sydney, the Hunter, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Illawarra."

Shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe pointed out the yearly cost for Illawarra train commuters was $260 more than it was in 2011 when the O'Farrell government came into power.

"Commuters from Thirroul and other small stations north of Wollongong are paying an extra $260 a year for less frequent services," she said.

Ms Sharpe also criticised the performance of Sydney Trains under the Coalition government.

"More than 31,000 people have lodged complaints about Sydney trains in the last 12 months.

"Just last month, the Auditor-General found six train lines failed to meet the government's on-time running target of 92 per cent. On-time trains under Labor ran at 96 per cent."

She said many people now had to take three or four trains to work.

The Mercury sought comment from the Transport Minister's office but had not received a response by deadline.

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