Rail fares

The recent fare increases have been unwelcome. Rail pricing in the UK stretches the idea that you should pay a lot more for popular routes at popular times and a lot less for the off peak hours and journeys. I have no problem with the general idea that pricing needs to try to fill more seats, and to encourage sensible time shifting for those who have some flexibility over when they travel. What I do not like is to take it out on commuters who have to meet normal business hours for their jobs and who have little or no flexibility over when they get on a train.

The wide range of fares for the same route often combines ultra low fares that make little addition to train revenue net of costs with extremely expensive penalty fares at other times of day. Season tickets are now very expensive over longer commuting distances. It could be time to think again about how the railway can sell more seats, collect more overall revenue, but go a bit easier on the reliable captive passengers who need to commute to work.

There is an advantage in people using trains at peaks for commuting. The road system is totally overloaded at peak times. Trains offer easier and better ways for many to get straight into the centre of a city or large town where more of the jobs are based. Greater adoption of digital signalling and intelligent on board train information systems could make a substantial boost to peak hour capacity without needing extra track. The present artificial scarcity of train seats into our main cities is used as an excuse for high prices for season tickets.

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77 Comments

  1. Richard1
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Yes but with all these operators being local monopolies and with them always able to blame network rail for technical shortcomings what’s the solution? It’s probably easier to kick the customers with price rises than invest in new technology if the customers have no choice.

    • jerry
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      @Richard1; The solution today is the same as was in 1923, or more radically 1948 [1], politically though neither are on the table for this government – saving the legacy of John Major’s government appears more important than stopping the paying passenger being kicked in the wallet each and every year…

      [1] assuming it could be made to work on a bi-partisan political bases this time

      • Richard1
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        I can remember nationalised British Rail it was dreadful!

        • jerry
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          @Richard1; I can remember BR to and it was far better than what we have now, for example; 1/. almost no restriction on which train use, 2/. just get on any train going in the general direction of travel without fear of a penalty fine for getting on the wrong train or TOCs service, meaning that one could get on the first train that stopped, 3/. trains would often wait for late running connections, 4/. ticketing regimes were designed to help the fare paying customer not just fleece them, 5/. even small Halt style stations often had a member of staff on hand to help, 5/. and if not most trains had a guard who would assist passengers on or off, and issue a ticket – not a penalty fine for not having a ‘permit to travel’ from the machine that failed to work, 6/. many trains had proper Buffet cars, not an unsafe trolley (should there be an emergency brake application) as a cost cutting excuse for customer service.

          Many people think the current railways are great because they can offer services that did not or could not exist technically in BR days. But even so, how many people are like you, on the one hand bash BR at ever opportunity but then on the other applaud the quality of ride of those tilting trains on the West Coast Mainline without realising that the technology was invented by BR at its Derby technical centre.

          That said, and as I have said before, and implied in my original reply to you, renationalisation would be my second choice -better that doing nothing.

        • Hope
          Posted December 8, 2017 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          Scrap the EUs HS2 at £132 billion and use the money to subsidize rail fare. Much better use than one railway journey to save 30 minutes!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Perhaps people should live closer to where they work? So kill the absurd 15% stamp duty and let them move.

      • jerry
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        @LL; Or locate the work close(r) to were the people live, either as bricks-n-mortar or virtual premises.

    • Colin
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Get rid of the local monopolies – open access on all lines!

  2. Richard1
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:25 am | Permalink

    So Mr Hammond says we’re handing over £40bn whether there’s a trade deal or not! The EU negotiators presumably can’t believe their luck at the ineptitude on our side and will ask for another great bung in phase 2 – probably in exchange for a trade deal which doesn’t include services and therefore won’t be worth having for the UK. Only by making credible preparations for no Deal and making a credible threat to walk away is there any chance of a decent deal. Has anyone who has a voice in govt made this point?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Richard, what I don’t understand is why the amount we have to pay keeps escalating. If we owe money then show us an itemised bill. It seems to me the EU just keep increasing the bill to suit themselves and we say ‘Yes Sir’.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      Why is the PM pursuing this appeasement course?
      The EU doesn’t want a trade deal so much as a punishment deal.
      Tell them we are defaulting to WTO rules and invite them to come back when they are ready to talk about an FTA.
      Pay them no money at all. If they are short, we can lend to them, with security, and interest charged of course.

      • graham1946
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        The interest rate could be penal – 6 percent like the government charge on student loans. They make the banks look honest.

    • Nig l
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:03 am | Permalink

      Why have we instantly gone on this subject again. What has it got to do with the topic? Obsessional regurgitation of the same old stuff. As a matter of fact he didn’t say that. He said however we left, we would have financial obligations that we have to meet, (run off of projects, etc,) and if we did it would compromise our standing in the world.

      As far as the topic is concerned, network rail has been it has been nationalised for some time now yet I read its performance has been getting worse. As usual an excellent analysis and solution but why are we still waiting after umpteen years of your government, why is the regulator allowing the fare increases, have any heads rolled, Ministers been sacked etc. Probably not, a captive consumer gets ‘milked’ again, a sort of parable for the whole of government.

      Let’s have some comparisons with the continent please, the trains I have used in different countries always seem cheap in comparison to ours.

    • Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Indeed. This is the consequence of appointing a Remainer chancellor. It’s remarkable that our “tactic” seems to be to hand over all the cash and agree to all the EU terms. Replace Hammond with Gove (or JR).

    • Bob
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      If Mr Hammond insists on paying Brussels a “divorce settlement” you should ask him for an itemised statement of assets and liabilities to support the amount he wants to pay.

  3. Duncan
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    If the hopeless, spineless, rudderless Conservatives are booted out of office in 2019-2020 by a vile Marxist rump then all your concerns will be at an end

    Corbyn and his union cronies will nationalise the entire network, trains and all and the taxpayer will be hammered, the passenger will be hammered and the trains will be at the mercy of political rail unions who will use them as a form of political blackmail whenever they want a pay rise or earlier retirement

    Well done to the Tories for sacrificing your principles. My and indeed your party’s turned left and you (and indeed I) will pay the price

    This is what happens when Tories lose their nerve and elect a leader who will drag this party to its knees

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      Alas we have parliament largely full of people who have never done a real job – lawyers, professional politicians, rent seekers, so call “consultants”, green loons, people looking for cushy jobs in the tax payer subsidised “arts”, EU or charity sectors, spin doctors, crooks …..

      Quentin Letts’s new book – Patronising Bastards: How the Elites Betrayed Britain
      is excellent & amusing but rather depressing on this issue.

      Brexit is a huge positive for the economy, but we need a leader with a positive vision to sell this – not a dim, corbyn light, green crap, PC, electoral liability, socialist ex(?) remainer dope. But who could lead this lefty rabble of “Conservative” MP’s?

      • getahead
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

        Quite so.

    • Bob
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      @Duncan
      I firmly believe that the long march through the institutions included the Tory Party. People like Mrs May with her “nasty party” speech have been chipping away from the inside to bring the party under control, while at the same time providing an illusion that we have a democratic choice.

      • Mitchel
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        No doubt about it…combined with the fact that real government has been steadily outsourced to structures controlled by fellow travellers to the extent that the official government is but a facade.

      • getahead
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

        “Nasty party”, subjugation to the liberal PC cabal.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Quite so. I believe Mrs. Thatcher was anti railways – another piece of her wisdom. For decades I have felt the rail network should be converted to coach/bus/tram lanes. HS2 is a financial disaster and perpetuates the wrong thinking since the old bankrupt rail companies were nationalised in 1948?.

      • Anonymous
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

        Turning a 125 mile mass passenger freight route into a 60mph B road.

        How clever.

    • NickC
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      Duncan, Network Rail is already nationalised (it’s on the PSBR). Most people don’t realise what this means. N-R encompasses the entire railway and infrastructure of Britain’s rail system. The train operators are very small beer in comparison. Really, Corbyn doesn’t need to do much (or spend much) to announce that British Railways is back in government ownership.

  4. Choo-Choo
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    A massive government tax on rail travel would solve our transport problems. The rails and trains would be eliminated thus bringing smooth road traffic, fast, better, cheaper, without the complication of needing to stop to let a train go by. Also bringing more agricultural and building land into the treasure trove of clear uninterrupted joined up thinking.
    Next step, massive taxes on tram and trolley-bus travel and any more bright ideas about travelling from the Ministry of Wacky Transport which just has to be based in Dublin or Belfast.

    • jerry
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      @Choo-Choo; That would do nothing but bring grid-lock to the roads, at least in London and the South East. Many level crossings could be abolished simply by building bridges, assuming that the DOT will spend the money. Oh and what of all the extra lorries clogging the motorways due to block-trains not running any more, and don’t suggest that the trackbed could be made into motorways or even duel-carriageways, they can’t for all number of geological reasons.

      • getahead
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        jerry, perhaps Choo Choo was saying tongue in cheek.

    • Tom
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      We have a massive tax payer subsidy for rail already, plus there is no VAT on train tickets and little tax or duty on their fuel – when compared to road. The systems is massively skewed against road and towards rail for no logical reason. They are not even greener or more fuel efficient overall.

      Why should some tax payers have subsidise others so they can sit on trains for hours and choose to live miles away from where they work?

      • Tom
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Also reduce stamp duty so people can move closer to where they work, without paying a fortune to do so.

      • Mockbeggar
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Actually, the subsidy is by private cars to road freight. HGVs travelling fully laden at around 60 mph do 100,000 times more damage to the road surface than the average car. They pay more road tax but not nearly that much more. Also, remember, there are a lot of foreign HGVs now paying nothing for the use of motorways and little or nothing in road fuel tax.

        Add this the fact that many motorists are frightened of being trapped between HGVs on the inside lane and thus tend to clog up the overtaking lanes.

        Much more freight could be transported inter-city by rail if more local railheads were to be built.

        • jerry
          Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

          @Mockbeggar; “Add this the fact that many motorists are frightened of being trapped between HGVs on the inside lane and thus tend to clog up the overtaking lanes. “

          That is more a problem caused by the driving standards of the average car driver, not the use of HGV’s on the roads, all to often coupled to absurd speed limits (and compounded by purely revenue generating enforcement cameras) that cause needless bunching – even on outside lanes.

          “Much more freight could be transported inter-city by rail if more local railheads were to be built.”

          I suspect it would need to be far more local than just “inter-city”, and in any case assumes that there is available locations with land available for such railheads, BR and now NR have been required to release far to much land for non railway use.

      • Anonymous
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 6:34 am | Permalink

        Season tickets for rush hour based on a 48 week year, five days a week.

        Watford – Euston – 32p a mile

        Chippenham – Paddington – 23p a mile.

        (Watford is more cost per mile because it starts within the expensive M25 catchment.)

        These prices improve if the season ticket holder uses his ticket for leisure as I’m almost certain that the Watford commuter does.

        The commuter is happy to pay three pounds for his coffee before he gets on the train.

        If the commuter has owned his house for more than five years the rail link has brought him massive wealth in increased equity but I doubt he’ll think of this benefit when he grumbles about paying 23/32p a mile on getting to work in London.

        I think our priorities are mislplaced here.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Short version – We need more road space and for the government to stop blocking the roads and deliberately causing appalling congestion. Trains make sense on a few intercity & commuter routes but in general, door to door, they are slower, far less efficient, you cannot carry much, are less green, less flexible and far more expensive – even with subsidy.

    With driver less cars & trucks coming soon and the population increase the investment needs to be in addition road space, tunnels, bridges, double decker roads and the likes.

    Cut out all the road blocking green crap religion please.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 8, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

      Trains make sense for ANY city.

      So that’s 69 cities or thereabouts. Not a ‘few’ routes.

  6. Mark B
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Once again our kind host is not dealing with the problem – MASS immigration.

    If you make something easier and cheaper more people will use it. Look at air transport. Decades ago you had to be wealthy to travel abroad. Now many get on a plane and travel far across the world for less per mile than travelling through London.

    The train companies have every right to charge what they want. Unfortunately what I do not like is the fact that the tax payer has to subsidise them. Something not mentioned.

    When you have so many people who want to live in London and the South East of course there is going to be over crowding.

    The solution to the problem is both simple and in the long run cheaper – Let the market decide.

    If more people want something that is scarce then they will have to pay for it or go without. Eventually things will balance themselves out. But when government get involved the train companies love it because they can get more money.

    • Anonymous
      Posted December 8, 2017 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Railway commuting does benefit the general taxpayer.

      It redistributes spending into the regions. It relieves pressure on non- rail commuting city dwellers.

  7. Dave Andrews
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Why are train-drivers paid so much? They don’t even have a steering wheel to operate.

    • 37/6
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Because there is a lot more to know than being a road driver. It is a train driver’s fault if he accepts a wrong signal at Clapham Junction(how does he know ?). He is at fault if his 1200 passenger commuter train is restarted in good time when it fails. He must know how to rescue other train, work under failed signalling and be able to pre empt speed drops and gradients and curves in something that handles like a car loaded with concrete and with duff brakes.
      Cut his pay in half. The saving on a season ticket is pennies.

      • 37/6
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        He is at fault if his 1200 passenger commuter train is *not* restarted in good time when it fails.

    • stred
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      Because the national unions are able to knock off the smaller regional privatised companies and they just pass the cost on to the ‘customer’, who is subject to a monopoly.

    • Mockbeggar
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      If we’re going to have driverless vehicles for road traffic, why do we need train drivers at all?

      • jerry
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

        @Mockbeggar; The reasons why driver-less trains can’t work, at least away from the typical mass-transit systems that already exist, are far to complex and technical to even start debating here whilst being kept to a reasonable length and thus get published.

      • Mark
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Eventually most train routes will be converted for autonomous driverless vehicles.

        • jerry
          Posted December 9, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

          @Mark; In name perhaps. In practice all that will happen is that the current job title “Train Driver” will be renamed/reinvented with much PR double-speak, perhaps to something like ‘On-Train Supervisor’.

          It is one thing running something like the fully autonomous DLR, it will be something else to operate a fully autonomous WCML for example.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Because they can and do hold the system & public to ransom. Just wait until Corbyn nationalises it then it will be even worse still!

      • 37/6
        Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

        Driver pay soared immediately on privatisation. They were relatively poor under nationalisation.

        To others: Unions have nothing to do with the award of franchises.

  8. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    As for many paying to commute is an unavoidable consequence of going to work shouldn’t the costs be subject to tax relief?

    We are captive to the fares as we are to the tax PAYE system. It would hurt less if the fares did not have to come out of taxed income.

    We do not ask for favour, just the same tax treatment as MPs.

  9. Tom
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I see that the queen is to formally commission Britain’s multi-billion £ air carrier (or rather a huge sitting duck) into the Royal Navy today – not that it will actually even be “operational” until 2021.

    Meanwhile we have:- the number of patient waiting for more than 4 hours at A&E doubling it seems. It is all about government priorities I suppose. Not that the NHS can ever work efficiently when it is free to all the World at the point of use to all and run by the incompetent state. Endless rationing, delays, waste & incompetence are inevitable – in the Mid Staffs style.

    • Rien Huizer
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Let then eat cake?

  10. alte fritz
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Having seen electrification as the essential first step, and seen how poorly our local project has been handled, I would say that smarter signalling as advocated by Mr R for some time, and allied improvements should be the priority.

    We have a degraded infrastructure because lines which would now be heaving with busy traffic were closed in the 60’s and 70’s. Not much of that infrastructure can be brought back into use so the system will never be as good as it could be. The only thing to do is to get more trains safely on the system. That requires a financial model which is worthwhile to the operators without punishing the taxpayer.

    I would like to see a flatter pricing model fairer to the working commuter.

  11. Andy
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Brexit is a great solution to rail overcrowding. Far fewer people will have jobs – so there will be fewer commuters using our trains.

    This is the conclusion today of two proper pieces of research from the House of Lords and CBI both of which make appalling reading for the Government.

    Of course David Davis should have commissioned official reports himself but presumably he is too busy reading something meaty, like The Beano, to bother with his actual job.

    Consider this while on the 8.17 to Paddington – which is overcrowding and late through years of Tory underinvestment. Brexit is like two full trains hitting each other head on – and the Tory extremists are driving. They do not care if it is your children who die in resulting collision. They have ejector seats and will be fine.

    (PS: most other EU countries do railways better and cheaper than us. Ironic).

  12. Caterpillar
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Hopefully improved signalling could lead to less failure. Outside of London peak trains are often delayed due to signal and power line failures in Euston and Watford areas and the knock on effects. One major knock on effect is all the locally stopping services being delayed to allow through the (so called) fast services out of London (it would be good to have these on a different line as their and the local service speeds and volatility are not compatible), also delays due to no crew.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Prices rise because the customers have little choice but to use the service.

    Given the motorist is constantly getting hammered, and air fare taxes also seem to be ever rising, the only thing left is to walk or cycle if you want to get anywhere local, but then you are limited as to what you can carry, and may also get wet.

  14. Ian Wragg
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Last night I watched Channel 4 propaganda film on the Channel Tunnel. The general theme was because we import so much more from the EU we must remain shackled to this corpse so as not to disrupt the trains.
    No mention of not being able to import say Florida oranges because of an 18% tax.
    No analysis of import substition after we can trade freely withROW.
    The latest remainiacs plause is to say we don’t know what sort of Brexit we want.
    To recap . Control of our borders. Control of our money and an end to ECJ interference and the return of our seas.
    Not difficult is it.
    I see (Juncker) wants May to stay as he knows she is a soft touch.
    Get rid now.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      Sorry. Ploy.

  15. Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    It’s a curious notion that rail commuters believe that their travel costs should be heavily subsidised by motorists. Note to whingeing train users:
    1, Get a job near home.
    2, Move home to be near work.
    3, Buy a car.
    4, Stop whingeing about “the price of my season ticket has gone up by……blah blah blah”. We don’t care. We drive to work/work at home/live near work like normal people.
    5, Stop reading the Guardian.

  16. Iain Gill
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    People should not have to pay for getting to work out of taxed income, they should be able to pay out of their income before tax. They should also be able to pay for career focused training out of income before tax. This would go some way to leveling a few playing fields. Its done like that in other countries.

  17. Bert Young
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Thank goodness I have no reason or wish to travel by rail . It is extremely expensive pushing many commuters to resort to their car ; the resulting congestion impacts on health and considerable frustration . London is , of course , a major drawback with its HQ office centres .Years ago efforts were made to diversify offices away from major centres – cost of real estate and improved methods of communication facilitated this . Today it looks as if the clocks have been turned back ; it defies logic .

  18. a-tracy
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    How does it work in London, do over 60’s get free inter London rail passes with their bus passes even if they are working full time? Do bus passes include the tube network?

    • Peter
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Over 60s in London get free transport on all Tubes from the centre to Zone 6. All buses are free. Overground trains are free after 9.30.

      Free transport is not conditional on whether or not you are still working.

      • a-tracy
        Posted December 8, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

        Well then it’s no wonder the workers have rising fares to subsidise this brilliant benefit.

  19. libertarian
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Easy answer to commuting

    Tax incentives to work from home, or to work from local community hot desk hubs

    Get people off of trains and roads at peak times, digital is the answer

  20. Peter A
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Would not like to imagine any London rail terminus with many more trains arriving at peak times, it is already overcrowded. Tube train platforms and trains are also overcrowded as it is. Try putting on more buses in Central London and do away with private cars altogether in the city centre.

  21. Epikouros
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    There is much wrong with our train systems as it is with the rest of the passenger and freight systems of movements. Generally because the decisions on spending, design and layout have been in the hands of politicians and vested interests instead of who they serve the consumer. Rail fares throw up a particular odious anomaly because they rely on taxpayer subsidies many of which do not use trains. Without which train users would have to pay considerably more for their journeys than they do now. So being disenchanted when rail fares going up is being somewhat disingenuous. There is an actual concern when it comes to rail fares and that is how efficient, competent and cost effective are the providers in particular Network rail. Not very would be my judgement.

  22. Posted December 7, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    There seems to be a lot of effort going into driverless cars. I would have thought it would have been easier to produce driverless trains, we have a few, but why not all trains? You don’t have the problem of steering, there should be no pedestrians to avoid and no staffing problems. Surely a doddle compared with a driverless car!

    • alan jutson
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      EP

      I agree, but I think the problem is the Capacity at the end of line terminals.

      Same problem eventually will be with cars, Auto driving or not, and parking places, can you imagine us all being driven around until we are asleep until a car park space is found.

  23. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Its cheaper to fly from Glasgow to Gatwick than take the train and I miss the rush hour crowds in London. No guarantee you will get a seat on the train and I’m not paying to stand. Stations are cold with no waiting rooms in many cases and strikes are too frequent
    The rail network needs to up its game.

  24. Rien Huizer
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Poorly designed privatization. Due for review, but not nationalization. Peak pricing is a normal outcone of regulation that allows it. Disallowing it may reduce the franchise value of the railway company in question and would warrant compensation.

  25. Peter
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    We have not got a joined-up rail system any more. So one company can blame another. Privatisation should mean government does not have to get involved the resolution of strikes, though that is more theory than practice as Southern Rail users will be aware.

    Meanwhile, foreign-owned, state rail companies take on franchises in the UK and use the profits to subsidise fares in their own countries.

    I am still waiting on a refund from the rail operator in Wales for a replacement bus that failed to turn up. I sent the claim in over a month ago. It reminds me how shambolic the train service in this country has become.

  26. Posted December 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Sir
    You haven’t mentioned HS2 and the huge, eye-wateringly large sums this white elephant is costing the country, just at a time when our Government is planning to throw equally large sums in a different direction, AND at a time when we need to watch our spending.
    Surely a moratorium would be advisable at this point. Many experts say that HS2 will be obsolete before it is complete, and that the money it is costing could be used to enhance our present network, enlarge and improve it. Most of all, we travellers want (a) a seat on a clean train (b) a train that runs on time, and (c) an internet connection. Surely these things are achievable with the money that is being wasted on HW2?

    • Chris S
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      An extremely sensible contribution.

      Nobody in Westminster is listening. though !

      HS2 will benefit all those politicians with business or seats North of Watford and that is the rub. Just like the M40 was built to get Oxford Graduate politicians to their colleges for dinner.

      Any transport proposal that is to cost every single family in the country £3,000 when the research stated clearly that a member of less than 5% of households will ever use it is an utter scandal. Yest we can do nothing about it.

  27. John
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I suspect the eventual answer will be in robot driverless cars, lorries, busses and trains.

    Seeing as they predict far more efficiency with driverless cars in a few years time allowing travellers also to do other work then it makes sense to bring this also to trains and busses. Allowing far more trains to run on the lines and without the costs of the drivers.

    When we see these cars working on our roads within 5 years it will be hard for the RMT etc to hold out.

  28. Freeborn John
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    The rail service from Reading to Wokingham seems to have become much much less reliable since the SW Trains franchise changed hands. I don’t use it every day but on two recent occasions when I tried going to Waterloo from Bracknell they were not selling tickets in the morning. The first was due to a signalling failure in London and they told everyone at 7am there would be no trains until 11am! The second occasion was due to a broken line near Reading and again they would not sell tickets probably because you can’t claim you are delayed if they have not sold you a ticket. When they did put an extra train on it started from Wokingham which is only 6 minutes away and there was not enough time to sell tickets to everyone before it arrived. Fellow passengers told me the same thing hadn’t happened the previous day so reliability has fallen off a cliff under the new franchisees.

    • Freeborn John
      Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

      Should have said rail service from Reading to Waterloo….

  29. gregory martin
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I question the need to commute.
    Time and money should be invested in completing schemes of’ cloud’ phones, speeding broadband (like replace all copper with optic fibre, the scrap value of copper would all but pay to do this!) Work from home could become the norm with current offices full of travelling workers who mainly spend their time attending to emails sent from within the building, contributing the necessary in the comfort of their home office, while providing child care/supervision in the time saved. Productivity could soar, work/life balance would improve, delinquency may fall. Conference calls for the ‘team’effort, remote monitoring to chivvy the reluctant.
    The reduction in volume of travel would permit those who need to , for client-facing ,etc to
    actually get a seat at peak hour, or drive without impedance.

  30. John
    Posted December 7, 2017 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Also reduce demand by placing a stop on all new house builds in South England.

    Only have planning permission granted north of the Midlands. It would ease pressure on the South and spread the so called economic benefit to the north where they say they want it.

    It would ease the travel congestion and we could divert funds for inter connectivity in the North.

    Will that happen? No of course not.

  31. Mark
    Posted December 8, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I have long argued that it is the businesses who employ commuters who should bear the cost of providing the peak capacity required to have them at their desks from 9 to 5. The cost could be reduced by locating away from a city centre, introducing home/local working, or by choosing different work hours. They must assess whether those alternatives make more sense to their businesses than the cost of peak commuting, but they will only do this if they are charged for it.

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  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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