Rail Fares to Rise Again
It beggars belief, but apparently rail fares are set to rise once more and this time by the largest amount in the last five years. At a time when the government is supposed to be encouraging the use of public transport, it is staggering that rail companies are permitted to continue blatantly ripping off their customers in such a fashion. The rise on January 2nd is going to be an average of 3.4% across the industry, which was last trumped in 2013 when fares increased by 3.9%.
It already costs more for me to jump on a train to do an hour run to either Birmingham or Manchester from my local station. And for the privilege of paying less to get somewhere, I get to travel in my own car, without the annoyance of other people surrounding me, coughing on me or generally irritating me. I get a seat, 100% of the time, and don't have to stand because the rail company has the cheek to charge the same for a seat as it does if you are standing due to a lack of seats. I get to exactly where I want to go, rather than the nearest station and then having to walk. And perhaps most importantly, I get to choose what time I leave and arrive. I don't have to work to someone else's schedule, often dragging me out of bed an hour before I would have to if I drove.
Yes, cars are bad for the environment. But when public transport is bad for sanity, wallets and convenience then it is no wonder that so many people use cars to get to work or leisure activities. Rail companies need to accept that travelling on the train is an inconvenience in comparison to travelling in your own vehicle. It therefore makes absolutely no sense to be charging people more to inconvenience them further.
The excuses are always the same; investment in new trains and improved tracks and all of that rubbish. Prices have been rising steadily since the advent of the rail service and the vast majority of the rises cannot be covered by the rate of inflation. Trains still get cancelled, they still end up delayed, the first class carriage still ends up under stocked and you still end up standing because they only put three carriages on a rush hour train. This hasn't changed in the last decade I've been using the trains and yet prices keep on increasing.
12% of trains failed to meet the rail industry's punctuality target in the last twelve months. If I was late on over 10% of my deadlines, I'd be up on disciplinary. I certainly wouldn't be able to argue a case for requiring more money in order to do the basic job I am employed for.
Fewer than half of passengers are satisfied with the value for money given by train tickets and that is no surprise. It's time to stand up and say loud and clear that these increases simply are not good enough. The only way to make the industry listen is to vote with your feet. I certainly have and I won't be using the train system any time in the future.