I blogged a few weeks ago how people expect so much from the railways but then moan at the cost of train tickets or the Government financial support to the industry. A paradox. You moan that you want extra carriages which cost £millions and are only needed for two hours a day because you decide to go to and from work at the same time as everyone else. You moan if fares rise to cover some of these costs. You moan if as a taxpayer you are contributing too much to the railways upkeep. So who should pay for your extra carriages or extra train services or station upgrade or track works to improve your journey. And because nobody can answer this paradox the uneducated shout the words “renationalise the railways ” like this is the answer to all the railways problems. They spout all kind of drivel, snippets of which they have picked up in scaremongering media as diverse as leftie leftie rubbish, commuters favourite Metro and that old favourite the Daily Mail. Even respected transport writers like Christian Wolmar seem to think renationalisation is a magic wand and that railways under British Rail were so fantastic. They were not. I ask you instead of jumping on the renationalisation bandwagon that you stop and think just what that entails.
This all came about last week because next years rail fares were announced. Que uproar and lots of uneducated, one sided, incorrect media reports finding pi***d off commuters to rant about how bad trains are for the camera. Bear in mind a great deal of fares will not rise or change very little. I agree some fares are very high and complex (although improvements have been made to simplify the system). I could show you a £1000 fare from the top of Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall. Equally though I could show you the same journey for about £30 with airline style advanced fares. And yes 3% increase is a great deal of money in these hard times but BR (the great State railway) starved the industry of investment requiring so many upgrades now that will bring better journeys and greater efficiency in the future. A mix of farebox and Government funding are required especially bearing in mind so many train services are complete loss makers but provide such invaluable services promoting inclusion to otherwise deprived communities. Somebody has to pay.
Equally a great deal of rail commuters also have a car. If railways are so expensive then why not ditch them and drive to work? You own a car. You pay the fixed costs of owning a car even if you don’t use the car, but you don’t take it to work. Why? Because the costs of congestion, travel time differences and parking charges make the train a better option!
Just to add to my retail example above. My weekly shop at Tesco has been rising at around 15-20% per year. This increase does not include the fact I now buy more discount brands then ever before, that I have to shop around farm shops, discount retailers like Farmfoods and buy less fresh meat and Veg then ever before because the costs of these have rocketed. This however does not make front page news. I would however be happy for Sky News to interview me standing in front of Asda moaning about price increases but nobody is interested.