Claire Perry and railway management

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Claire Perry

Claire Perry

This morning it was announced that unregulated rail fares would rise by 1.1%. Regulated fares would rise by 1% but that we already knew. As usual, some said fares should not raise at all as they pointed out that fares have risen by more than average wages over the last five years.

What was touched on by no-one was the fact that it seems, to me at least, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get cheap fares by booking ahead. If I book a Cardiff to London return for next Monday the cost is £92 50; two singles cost £98. If I book fourteen days in advance, the return fare price stays at £92.50 but two singles cost £88 – a 10% saving. Booking a month ahead and the return price is £93.40 and two singles cost £62. If I book two months ahead which is as far ahead as it is possible to book on the National Rail website, a return is £93.40 and booking two singles can make it drop to £43.50. So there is no advantage in buying return tickets more than a day in advance. Buying single tickets does save but only if you pick very specific trains and can know that, in two months’ time, you can stick to them. Most of us can’t plan that far ahead with pinpoint precision.

Why is this?

Our UK rail minister, Claire Perry,  might have an answer. This week, during a debate about railways through Chelmsford she expounded on her theory of rail travel. I quote verbatim from Hansard,

“I will share briefly my theory of railway management. The railways have historically been run by gentlemen—only 17% of the workforce across the whole network is female—who probably had trainsets on their bedroom floors as little boys, but the problems with trainsets are twofold. First, all the trees are evergreen—bits of broccoli will do—and do not shed their leaves, so leaf adhesion is never a problem. Secondly, there are no teeny-tiny passengers to stuff into the train as it whizzes around the floor. I have been told by a departed senior person in the railway industry that were it not for passengers, the timetabling would be perfect. I assure all Members here that that my Department and I utterly reject that view. We will do all that we can, working with Network Rail and the operators, including Abellio Greater Anglia to ensure that passenger interests are put front and centre of this unprecedented investment in railways.”

It is nice to know that passenger interests are put first. It’s also nice to know that – come the Christmas getaway – we won’t be stuffed into trains because passenger interests are “put front and centre.” Maybe in her next announced theory she can cover pricing management theory.

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