Farce of rail price hikes

clapped-out bus replacement rail service

clapped-out bus replacement rail service

direct train to London (via Nottingham)

direct train to London (via Nottingham)

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. — Sophie Allain of the Campaign for Better Transport

Here’s more proof that UK passengers are getting robbed blind by a combination of train operator greed and Government incompetence that leaves the public paying through the nose for fragmented and overcrowded services. — Bob Crow, general secretary of transport union RMT

This time every year we go through the annual farce of hike in rail fares much higher than inflation and the train companies telling us it is for our benefit, that is to improve services.

Do they think us stupid? Has anyone seen an improvement in rail services?

For at least a decade rail fares have increased much faster than inflation, sometimes double the rate.

This year it was to be inflation plus 3%, giving a rise of just under 8%. Such was the public reaction that it was capped at inflation plus 1%, but that has still resulted in a rise of 5.9%. For the next two years it will be inflation plus 3%.

The figure of 5.9% is in any case misleading. It is not the maximum by which rail fares will rise, it is the average. Some rail fare will rise by more than ten percent. For passengers travelling from Devon and Cornwall to the Midlands and the North a doubling of rail fares!

Plymouth to Newcastle return on the 0925 will now cost £367 instead of £177! A return ticket on the 0645 service from Penzance to Glasgow will cost a staggering £427 instead of £213! I would expect to fly Gatwick to Larnaca return for far less than this. Gatwick to Venice around £100.

For this are we seeing an improvement in rail service? The answer is a very definite no. The only beneficiaries are the rail operating companies for running a shoddy service.

In the summer I wished to go to Alton. I arrived at the station to find a clapped-out double decker bus, which seemed to have been salvaged from a scrap yard. On the way back there was no bus. There was a bus but it was not running so we had to wait for the next one. The next one, a clapped-out coach (but at least it was a coach), only went half way, the passengers had to disembark and change coaches half way.

Weekend rail works

During the autumn I wished to go to Brighton for the day. With rail works it was not a feasible option. A journey there which would usually take an hour and a half was going to take three hours.

Last month on the Reading to Gatwick train there was no working toilet. There should be two toilets, but often there is only one, and the one toilet was blocked and stank. The door jammed trapping people in the disgusting toilet. I spoke with the guard, who walked away disinterested. This happens regularly, as does no water in the toilets. The trains are filthy. And this is lunchtime, not even the excuse that it is the end of the day.

Recently at Guildford I walked towards the train and was about to get on the train, the doors were closed in my face. The guard saw what happened and signalled for the train to depart.

At North Camp, passengers to Guildford and Gatwick are regularly left stranded due to the barriers going down early. The guard sees them waiting to cross, signals the train to leave without the waiting passengers, leaving them if going to Gatwick an hour wait for the next train and possibly a missed flight.

A couple of weeks ago I travelled London to Lincoln. There used to be a service leaving Kings Cross at 1310 or 1410, change at Newark (a connecting service to Lincoln with a wait of around five minutes). It is still shown as a connecting service but with a 45 minute wait at Newark and catching a train at Kings Cross 40 minutes earlier. The alternatives were even worse, travel to Retford or Doncaster to catch a connecting train to Lincoln.

At Newark I enquired how far to walk into Newark. I was told 20 minutes, thus not worth the risk of missing the connecting train.

With time on my hands I asked why was the service so bad? I was told it had improved! I was told there had always been this long wait!

East Coast mainline trains boast free wifi. I had yet to find it, either not working or wrong rolling stock. This time it was working. It took 20 minutes to log in. The so-called free wifi service was slow and only granted 15 minutes, after which it was charged. It was highly restrictive, this blog for example was blocked. It seemed to be little more than a scam to obtain personal information from passengers.

At Lincoln there are posters boasting of a direct train service Lincoln to London. I did wonder was this why the service was now so bad, to force people to use this direct service. Their idea of direct differs from mine. Direct is Lincoln to Newark, then straight down the main line to London Kings Cross. This so-called direct service goes via Nottingham! There is only one train a day at 0704 in the morning (which takes almost three hours), with one train back in the evening. The poster suggests otherwise use connecting services via Nottingham!

For this deteriorating trains service we are seeing above inflation annual hikes in rail fares.

We pay three times for rail travel than in Germany. For long journeys is is usually cheaper to fly.

With the proposed increases, rail fares will have risen by 24% in three years. For a deteriorating train service we pay the highest fares in Europe. Some rail fares are ten times what they are in Europe.

Even before today’s hike in fares the costs were excessive.

An annual season ticket between Woking and Waterloo, including a central London transport pass, £3,268.

A French commuter travelling from Ballancourt-sur-Essonne to Paris faces an annual bill of £924.66. Even this is proving too much for some, with Parisians threatening a fare strike.

Meanwhile a German going from Strausberg to Berlin has to find £705.85, an Italian commuting between Velletri and Rome is currently paying £336.17 and a Spaniard travelling from Collado-Villalba to Madrid is charged £653.74.

The prices quoted for continental commuters all include some form of travel card giving unlimited travel in at least part of the capital city.

Enough is enough.

Wednesday, the first working day in the New Year, the day after the hike in fares, action is planned.

From 3 January 2012 (please not before), tell the George Osborne how much your fare went up this year and why you are so angry: Tweet @hmtreasury with the hashtags #farefail #railfail and give your old and new fare. You may also wish to text to 88802 with ref FAREFAIL, or call the Treasury 020 7270 5000 and give your views on the unfair hike in frail fares.

Sign up to the #fairfail campaign for fairer fares.

Train operators cashing in on fare rises warns spending watchdog
British commuters facing western Europe’s dearest fare rises
Devon and Cornwall train fare prices double to North
Passenger concern at rail fare increases in the UK
Rail fare increases across UK prompt anger
Rail passengers threaten fare protests

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One Response to “Farce of rail price hikes”

  1. keithpp Says:

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