By Myriam Dijck
Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey has revived plans to move Kingston and Surbiton to zone five rather than zone six to prevent commuters paying the current "unnecessary high fares".
The zone change could also mean the end of a two-hour bus ride that several commuting Kingston students take to avoid the expensive train fares.
Stefan Mattison, a third year student who represents Kingston commuters at the Students’ Union, said: "I feel it would be a huge benefit to all Kingston students. In regards to commuter students in particular it would go a long way to alleviating some of the financial and time restraints placed on them."
Both Kingston and Surbiton station are currently in zone six, however, both are only 12 miles away from London which is where most zone five stations are.
Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton, has been trying for years to get the zone change. In 2008 the plans were rejected by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Mr Davey said: "London has transport ‘zones’: the further out you are, the higher the zone you are in. The system is fair if the zones are fair. Zone 5 stations average 11.8 miles from the central London terminal, zone 6 stations average 14.6. Kingston and Surbiton stations are 12 miles from Waterloo, and yet are in zone 6. This is clearly not fair."
The biggest difference would be for any day return tickets to London, which would go down to £8.70, the same as the fare from Berrylands Station which is in zone five. This is a £2 difference from the current price of £10.80.
Stefan said: "I personally know of students who travel around two hours on the bus to get to Kingston as they feel the train is too expensive. Any possible re-zoning would benefit them greatly and surely have a positive impact on their studies.”
Last month local MPs, Ed Davey and Zac Goldsmith, met transport minister Teresa Villiers, who agreed to look at the proposals and approved local campaigner and academic Dr Tim Leuning to work alongside the Department for Transport.
According to Mr Davey, South West Trains agreed that they would make the zone change if the government asked them.
A spokesman for South West Trains said: "We are aware of the ongoing campaign over the fare zoning of Kingston and Surbiton. Any changes to the zoning of fares would have to be agreed with TfL and other London train operating companies and then approved by the Department for Transport."
The price of daily travel cards will not change by re-zoning Kingston and Surbiton. However weekly travel cards will go down by £3 and monthly ones £10.
The re-zoning talks come only weeks after Boris Johnson, who is also the head of London Public Transport, announced an average 7 per cent increase in ticket prices across all London transport. The increase will take effect from the start of next year.
Ed Davey tells The River...
London has transport “zones”: the further out you are, the higher the zone you are in.
The system is fair if the zones are fair. Zone 5 stations average 11.8 miles from the central London terminal, zone 6 stations average 14.6. Kingston and Surbiton stations are 12 miles from Waterloo, and yet are in zone 6. This is clearly not fair.
Edward Davey MP, along with local academic economist Tim Leunig, and neighbouring MP Zac Goldsmith, has been campaigning to get these stations rezoned.
South West Trains have said that they will do it if the government asks, so Edward, Tim and Zac recently met Rail Minister Theresa Villiers to press the case. She has agreed that officials will work with Tim Leunig to assess the implications for the train company and the department. She will then make a decision.
Rezoning would cut the cost of most tickets towards London. The biggest beneficiaries would be part-time working women. This is because the price difference between zone 5 and zone 6 tickets is greatest for peak time single and return fares. If the rezoning happens, all fares from Kingston and Surbiton will be the same as the fares from Norbiton and Berrylands.