die belebende Bedenkung

Strange kind of war

with 3 comments

On 14 August, the Daily Mail reported that fare increases programmed for Britain’s railways in the next two years would widen the gap between what British and European commuters pay for tickets.

Some UK tickets are already almost ten times the price of some on the continent, according to figures from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The price of a season ticket from Woking in Surrey to London, including Tube travel in the capital, was £3,268 last year – while the 22-mile journey from Velletri to Rome cost Italian season ticket holders £336.17.
Sophie Allain, CBT’s public transport campaigner, said: ‘We knew we had some of the most expensive rail fares in Europe, if not the world, but even we were shocked by how much more the UK ticket was in comparison to our European counterparts.

When the cost of season tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the Government’s fare rises are starting to affect the UK’s competitiveness.’

And all that was before a 6 per cent rise in fares in January 2012, and now the impending 6 per cent average increase for 2013 passengers are facing with news today that the retail prices index (RPI) rose to 3.2 per cent.

For the next two years, train operators can hike fares by whatever RPI is, plus 3 per cent – and can raise some tickets by another 5 percentage points on top of that as long as they make others cheaper. That could equal an 11 per cent rise for some journeys both next January and the one after.

According to the Campaign for Better Transport’s Fair Fares Now website

Train travellers should be able to expect a fair deal for the price of their ticket.

Fair Fares Now is calling for:

* Affordable prices, including peak times and turn-up-and-go tickets

* Reliable services that aren’t overcrowded

* Straightforward tickets that make train travel simple

Making fares cheaper, simpler and fairer wouldn’t just benefit long-suffering passengers, and stop pricing those who can least afford it off the train. It would also give people choices about how they get around, and help to attract more people onto the train. In the long run, that’s what’s needed to protect the environment and strengthen the economy.

But what “fair” means, hasn’t been explained. On Left Foot Forward, Will Straw asserted that

if there is a war being waged on any of the travelling public, it is on those using public transport.

If there is a “war” being waged on commuter rail users, it’s quite an odd one. For example, Department for Transport data for the year 2010 – 2011 showed that the Southeastern train company was subsidised to the tune of 11.6 pence per passenger kilometre. For a commuter travelling from Ashford to St Pancras, that meant a subvention of around £20.88 per day, or £104.40 a week. It’s difficult to see what’s “fair” about a situation in which a warehouseman in Ashford going 15 kilometres to low paid work by heavily taxed private car, subsidises the travel of a HS1 commuter going 90 kilometres to a City finance job.

According to the consultancy Steer Davies Gleave, HS2 could increase commuting from Birmingham to London by between two and four times. There are few instances of long distance tidal rail traffic covering its costs, and on the evidence of Southeastern’s subsidy requirements and the energy-hungry speeds planned for HS2, the subsidy required to cover Y network losses could be substantial. HS2 Ltd has not provided any details of annual subsidy requirements for its proposed services.

Written by beleben

August 20, 2012 at 10:24 am

3 Responses

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    16th August 2012
    High rail fares cut many of us off from London. However, subsidy can scarcely be supported since the better off use rail four to five times as much as do the poor. The pity of it is that those crushed, well to do, commuters could all have seats at a fraction the cost, if only the sentiment that supports rail could be set aside.
    For example, even in central London and in the peak hour, that vast (surface) rail network is, in highway terms, used to only about one seventh of its capacity. If paved, countless lorries and other vehicles would divert from the unsuitable streets that they now clog, commuter journey times, except for the longest, would be shortened, fuel consumption would be greatly reduced, fares could be at least halved and the system would be profitable, rather than loss making.
    Those who disbelieve should consider the contra-flow express bus lane serving New York’s bus terminal. It carries 700 45-seat coaches in the peak hour offering over 30,000 seats. In contrast, in the peak hour and at Victoria Main line four inbound tracks are required to carry 30,000 crushed rail commuters. The numbers speak for themselves.
    Our published evidence on the Reform of the Railways submitted to the Transport Committee is available here:
    Other of interest includes:
    Central London:
    Costs of conversion:
    Fuel and emissions: (That detail takes no account of the very large savings that would accrue from existing vehicle transferring the converted network).
    Death rates:
    Alternatively go to the facts sheets here or to the topics here and browse.

    Phone 01604 847438

    TRANSPORT- WATCH is an independent association not connected with any business or political party funded by a private trust and dedicated to making the best use of land already committed to transport in the interest of the community as a whole.

    Paul Withrington

    August 20, 2012 at 11:54 am

  2. Even surveys in the 60’s showed exactly the same complaints as are being made today. High fares, no info when things go wrong etc etc. Now the problem is that there are dividends to pay for each sub-sub contractor to network rail, each TOC and each ROSCO, money that could be used to bring fares down and provide investment without the need to borrow so much.


    August 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    • silenced eh? Just shows your parochial agenda


      August 22, 2012 at 10:53 am

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