Regarding the 4.1 per cent average rise in rail fares (Metro, Wed), I have been commuting for three-and-a-half years. It takes me two hours to get to work (including a bus journey and two trains).
I have been subject to delays on average three times a week, my rent has increased, train and bus fairs risen, utilities gone up and I am only earning £250 more per year than I was when I started commuting.
With another train ticket rise (and no doubt bus, too), it will be cheaper for me to run a car for my particular journey, whereas three years ago it was significantly cheaper by public transport.
How the government thinks that pushing commuters back on to the road is going to help the environment or congestion, I do not know.
I was shocked to read ministers are claiming rail passengers are just ‘doing their bit’ by accepting an average 4.1 per cent rail fare increase. When are the companies who profit from these fares going to do their bit?
I wouldn’t mind if I could see a difference. I have paid £20 a day to get the Manchester to Leeds train for three years. It’s overcrowded, often delayed and an awful journey. I’ve seen no difference in service over the past few years.Ministers should be forced to commute to work via train (standard class) and see then how much the rail network changes.
Every time there is a train fare increase, we are told it is to improve services but I only see things getting worse. On Tuesday, once again we were crammed into two carriages when it should have been four. It will soon be cheaper for me to drive to work.
John H, Greater Manchester
The rail fare increases offer the EU a wonderful opportunity to restore some credibility with the British electorate. It could rule that British train fares are illegally high and force the government to reduce the fares to parity with European train companies.
The Association of Train Operating Companies says it has driven customer satisfaction to ‘near record levels’. Who did it survey? Certainly not regular commuters who squeeze on to late-running, cramped carriages every morning.
Perhaps ATOC regards ‘extremely disappointed and frustrated’ as a step up from previous levels.
Paul M, Manchester
I am writing regarding increases in rail fares (Metro, Thu). Successive government policy has been to shift the balance of railway funding away from taxpayers and towards passengers. Since 2004, the formula for calculating regulated fare increases has been set by central government at RPI plus one per cent.
Investment is happening. First TransPennine Express (FTPE), which operates in the north of England, has invested more than £300million in new trains and station improvements since 2004.
It is investing £60million in 40 new carriages and, from May 2014, will be offering a 30 per cent increase in capacity. Longer term, more than £1billion has been committed to improving rail in the north.
By providing more seats, faster journeys and more travel options, customers’ satisfaction will continue to improve.
N Donovan, FTPE
Yet again the public transport user – the traveller the government claims it wants to encourage – will be hit by hyper-inflationary increases in fares come 2014 (Metro, Mon).
For what? Terminal disruption to the service with a raft of lines closed every weekend? Legend has it Margaret Thatcher said a man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure. Whether or not she said it or not, it reflects the Tories’ disdain for the train.
In an era when the roads are rammed, fume-filled canyons, to be penalising public transport users is a disgrace.
Dave Degen, Hertfordshire
I live in the south-east, where fares have increased by double-digit percentages in the past two years and I wouldn’t bet against a similar increase next year.
To draw a comparison, the European Union has for some time been endeavouring to impose regulations on financial transaction tax and salary bonus caps in the City.
These attempts have been opposed by David Cameron and Boris Johnson on the basis they would be damaging to London as a global financial hub and would inevitably result in a talent drain to centres in other countries.
Yet, at the same time, our elected officials seem content to sit back and allow privately owned train-operating companies to repeatedly impose draconian fare increases on hundreds of thousands of workers who, like me, commute to London and, to a large extent, form the backbone of the aforementioned financial hub.
Are these increases not in their own way a tax on jobs? The government needs to ask what might happen when a workforce that is already unable to afford to live in the capital can also no longer afford to travel to work there.
N Miller, Kent
These rises are typical of unconstrained privatisation. Private companies are only interested in margins and profit, and when shareholders ask why their returns are so poor, the first thing to suffer is reinvestment. Some things should never be privatised.
Sam Johnson, via Facebook
Until any government is brave enough to reverse the mid-1990s rail privatisation, these fare rises will continue. These companies are getting three times the subsidy British Rail got.
Weary Commuter, Glasgow