Rail fare increases

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Who should pay?

So we know that rail fares in England will rise by 4.1% on average next January. Fares in Scotland may go up by 3.1% and there is no decision on Northern Ireland and Wales.

The media has trotted out the usual stories about how expensive it is to travel from A to B whilst the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has said investment costs have to be funded from somewhere. Both comments are correct and have been so for years but is anything being done about resolving this annual argument?

It is generally agreed that trains have had had pretty poor shift from governments ever since Beeching and maybe before. Successive governments seem to think that we should spend £30 billion plus on high speed rail because it would benefit jobs, infrastructure, the economy and themselves (ie they were being seen to do things) but disapprove of the £6 billion a year “subsidy” to the railways saying passengers should pay.

Seen in another light, that £6 billion was encouraging jobs, it enables freedom of travel and keeps additional traffic off the roads. New lines in the Scottish Borders and South Wales show its popularity as do the growth in passenger numbers. On our lines platforms have been extended to take ten coach trains instead of eight. No 10 coach trains yet though. Shouldn’t we encourage this growth by reconsidering railway financing as a necessary cost for infrastructure and economic development rather than a subsidy? And at times when wages are steady, forego these annual jumps in fares and even consider reducing them.

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