Leeds commuters hit by fare rises

Hard-pressed commuters in Leeds were feeling the squeeze today as they totted up the full cost of New Year train fare and VAT rises.

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has released figures showing that regular rail users in and around the city are among those being hammered by January 2's fare increases.

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According to the CBT, the price of a Leeds-Wakefield annual season ticket has risen by 7.1 per cent to 840.

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Other increases reported by the CBT include Leeds-Doncaster (6.9 per cent to 1,840), Leeds-Sheffield (5.8 per cent to 2,028) and Newcastle-Leeds (5.8 per cent to 6,260).

Nationwide, season tickets have gone up by an average of 5.8 per cent, although some have risen by nearly 13 per cent.

The CBT says the new prices equate to about 20 per cent of the average UK salary. Campaign chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "Commuters feel like they're being pickpocketed."

It's not just rail travellers, though, who are in danger of being left with a bad case of the midwinter money blues.

Bus firm Arriva Yorkshire put up several of its single fares by 10p from Sunday while motorists are having to contend with rises in the price of fuel at the pumps.

The AA estimates a recent fuel duty increase coupled with yesterday's hike in VAT will add around 3.5p to the cost of a litre of petrol or diesel. It also claims drivers spent nearly 10m more a day on petrol in December than in the same month in 2009.

Motorists commuting into Leeds have an added worry thanks to the uncertainty over the future of a number of cheap all-day car parks operating in Holbeck without planning permission.

The city council announced the closure of the sites in November but the move was then put on hold pending a review of car parking provision in the middle of Leeds.

The Association of Train Operating Companies has defended the fare increases, saying they will allow for continued investment in Britain's railways.

Chancellor George Osborne has called the 2.5 per cent rise in the standard rate of VAT a "powerful weapon" in the fight to tackle the country's debt.