Reliable and punctual

By | Category: Travel rumblings

That is what Keith Williams, the man tasked with reporting on how the train network should work in the future thinks will be achieved by his recommendations.

The Hitachi trains – another leap forward in rail travel – have not helped reliability ideas after having found to have cracks in some of the new trains.

The new authority to run and co-ordinate trains (like the old Strategic Rail Authority) is to be called Great British Railways

That is really all passengers have ever wanted although it would be helpful if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg to travel in peak times.

The trouble is that the privatisation plan of the 1990’s was also designed to make the railways more reliable and punctual as well. British Rail in the seventies and eighties was the subject of jokes and not just about the curled-up sandwiches. There wasn’t much punctuality then either,

Will this plan achieve the much desired purpose?

Maybe.

For people who are non-commuters; those that use the train for days-out, weekend breaks and holidays, I can’t see much of a change. That is unless we can travel at peak times for cheaper fares especially to destinations far away.

Let’s say you want to have a day out in London and you live in Carmarthen or Middlesborough.  From Carmarthen the four hour train journey costs ££92.50 return on the cheaper services but you don’t get there till after midday and you can’t leave between about 3pm and 7.20 pm which gets back at 11.20 in the evening. That’s too late if you’re taking kids out for the day. Catch the full fare train and it is £289.10 return for each adult. I can fly to most of Europe and back for that. Williams mentions that there are 55 million fares. If that gets rationalised to something a human being can grasp, well and good!

The journey from Middlesbrough is slightly shorter in time but a full fare is £322. But you can travel at reasonable times of the day and still get time for a good day out for £127, still exorbitant when multiplied for a family for four.

Yes, I know there are family tickets which help to reduce prices but having such a variety of tickets just makes which is the most economic one to purchase another complication for us to work out. Especially given the conditions attached to the fare.

Will this plan lure us back to rail and away from cars?

Staying in our own space – the sort of space your own car gives you – is something the railways are going to have to think seriously about. Maybe it is time to bring back compartments to trains so families can feel safer going away for a break.

As it stands, the new proposals don’t do much for the day-tripper and holidaymaker. It just sounds like something from days gone past dressed up in modern language.

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