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London Commuters to benefit 40 % rail fare cut

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Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the Crossrail site (File)
Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the Crossrail site
Prime Minister David Cameron visiting the Crossrail site

London’s commuters are eagerly waiting to avail the advantage and benefit of the long-awaited arrival of Crossrail which will deliver fare cuts of up to 40 per cent from next weekend, reports UK’s leading newsweekly for British Asians, Asian Lite.

Though not fully open through the new central London tunnels until 2019, the first leg of the Crossrail train concession from the City to Essex transfers to MTR, its Hong Kong-based operator, from next Sunday, says The Times report.

Initially, the new service effectively will be the existing east London service to and from Liverpool Street. Commuters on the route will be charged far less than they have been by Abellio because Transport for London has committed to charging the same fares for Crossrail as for the rest of the London Underground and London Overground networks.

Travellers to and from Romford will probably get some of the best deals — a 30 per cent cut on the daily rush hour fare of £7.60, or a 40 per cent drop from £5.20 if travelling off-peak. TfL says that 80 per cent of journeys on the route will have cheaper fares.

The services will be badged TfL Rail to begin with and will operate using the fleet of old British Rail Class 315 trains that are in use at the moment. In an attempt to protect the brand, the Crossrail name will not come into use until MTR has cleaned up the stations on the east London route and until the new Derby-built metro trains arrive from Bombardier in 2017.

The Crossrail franchise will expand on the other side of London from Paddington to Heathrow in May 2018, when MTR takes over the existing Heathrow Connect services, which are operated by FirstGroup.

The first services through the new tunnels under London, which will run every two minutes using super-long trains, are due to begin in December 2018 and Crossrail is expected to be fully operational from Shenfield in the east to Reading in the west by December 2019.

In addition to the staff transferring from Abellio, MTR expects over time to train 400 drivers — the majority of whom MTR aims to recruit from outside the industry — at its new training centre at its Liverpool Street head-quarters.

There had been speculation that TfL might try to charge a premium for passengers using Crossrail, not least because of the £15 billion cost of the project.

Stephen Locke, the chairman of London TravelWatch, the commuters’ watchdog, told The Times, “Given that afford- ability of fares is a major issue for passengers, we welcome the lower fares that will come when TfL takes over these services and the fact that TfL concessions and discounts will apply.”

The land grab is already happening. In addition to the Crossrail services, MTR and Deutsche Bahn, the operators of the London Overground, will take over the operation of the West Anglia route from Liverpool Street through Enfield Town to Cheshunt, in Hertfordshire, from next Sunday. Commuters on that route also will benefit from the fare cuts as they transfer from Abellio’s pricing scheme to that of TfL.