Spare a thought for holidaymakers
With regularity bordering on tedium, rail fares rose yesterday. The usual expressions of horror appeared in the newspapers to be greeted by rail industry figures pointing out that it was all the government’s fault. The government blamed the last government, the last government wrung its hands but it will all die down in a few days with no resolution either way. Commuters will still moan, politicians will do nothing and life will go on until the next fares increase in January 2014.
Matt’s cartoon in today’s Daily Telegraph says it all. It shows a boy’ parents watching him on the floor with a train set and saying to each other that he doesn’t play with it, he just puts the fares up. I am of the view that politicians are playing with our train set! Only it’s no toy.
Spare a thought then for holidaymakers.
Train travel is still a widely used method in this car dominant society for travelling on day trips, short breaks and holidays. Our pockets are not ever-ending unlike some. Every extra penny we pay means less for hoteliers, the destination, attractions and souvenirs. Which means less money in the local economy, less jobs and less money paid in taxes to fund the government coffers. So the price rises get greater to make up for the lost revenue. I know I have over simplified things and that train travel is on the increase but given that so few of us have had pay rises in the last few years, there comes a point where people will say no more.
Two walkers travelling on a train in Suffolk today were aghast to have to pay over £19 even after using their senior citizens cards. They just wanted to go to one destination, complete a walk over a few miles and then return to a train further down the line. It wasn’t as if either journey would take more than fifteen minutes on the train either.
Small wonder then that I read that UK rail fares are now the highest in Europe. I have written before about the various reports that have suggested savings but does anything alter? The transport department always used to be a dumping ground for politicians and I can think of only two in the last fifty years who have had much impact – Ernest Marples building motorways and presiding over the Beecham debacle and Barbara Castle introducing seatbelts. Privatising railways has largely turned out to be governments speak for the creation of local monopolies. Now I can’t even remember whose idiotic idea it was. But whoever came up with it probably wore blinkers. Those same blinkers view any problem in isolation. Too much money spent on railways leads to the solution that fares must rise and cutbacks made. Did anyone consider the wider impact or was that report just kicked into touch as the government felt that although moans would come and teeth would be gnashed it would be just a two day wonder? The problem is that they are right. It’s been like that for years and will be for some to come.
I don’t suppose there is a transport secretary in the making with a bit of backbone to question this idiocy!