News Reviews 4

Posted on Sep 22, 2013


Train Fare Rises

British Railway

British Railway.
Picture taken by the author, Darren Greenidge

I got on a train the other day and realised my fare had crept up by 20p. Yes, I know, it isn’t much but it is a price hike all the same, one of many yet to come. Buses have also risen by a similar amount at a time when people can’t afford any more hikes but are forced to pay them anyway to get into work.

Train fares are set to rise by 4% by 2014 here in the UK, faster than the average wage rises. This will affect those in lower paid jobs who are forced to travel by train to work. In doing so, people may be forced to give up their jobs for it is becoming clear that people can no longer afford to work for a living what with food prices soaring as well as utility and fuel bills.

Very soon we will be charged for the air that we breathe and you may smile wryly at this but earlier this year a student at Oxford University; probably the greatest university in the world, actually worked out how much it would cost to breathe the air. It made for scary reading and even though it was just a gimmick, you can well imagine those in parliament and other governments around the world thinking this could be a solution to getting more money from people. The thought doesn’t bare thinking about.

Wouldn’t it make sense to keep fares low on all public transport, so encouraging many to use it and increase revenue? It seems not. They decide to increase fares and force the low paid to make hard choices as if they don’t have enough to worry about as it is.

Many countries around the world have cheap travel including France, America and Japan to name a few but we seem to keep putting them up once or twice a year. And for what? The service isn’t perfect on some lines and they never run all night either. Then there’s the amount of people who cram themselves onto the trains, herded like sheep, tightly squeezed together which to me is a health and safety problem waiting to turn into a huge disaster.

Train Tickets Price Hikes

Train Tickets Price Hikes
Picture taken by author, Darren Greenidge

There’s also the white elephant that is HS2, a so-called fast speed link between London and Birmingham that is meant to reduce travel time and increase revenue but the downside is it is costing around £80 billion to build; double what it was meant to cost and it will also cut a swathe through our green and pleasant land as well as destroy many homes, villages possibly and towns in part as well. One of my friends lives in a pre-Domesday village a few short miles from where the line may be built and hers as well as many others will have to put up with heavy machinery passing through ancient places like this for a number of years. I can imagine house prices will fall, damage may be caused, structural and otherwise, and of course there’s the noise pollution and negative impact on the communities affected. Many historical buildings will be levelled and then there is the wildlife.

The wildlife won’t get a say. Their habitats will be destroyed or irrevocably damaged. But if it all goes ahead, then how much will the fares be? I have no doubt it will be expensive and many won’t be able to afford it anyway in all probability. So instead of spending all that wasted money on a service and new line that is pointless as well as damaging; how about improving the ones we have and maybe reopening old ones that lay dormant and ready to run again? It makes perfect sense to most of us but the rich and the powerful want new toys to play with at our expense in more ways than one. There is a petition to help stop it called that shows the negative impact on the environment and what it will mean for future generations when it is complete in twenty years, if building goes ahead in the near future of course. Even politicians are now turning their backs on it.

HS2 link

HS2 link
Picture courtesy of

Another thing about HS2 and a high-speed rail link is why don’t we have another channel link that goes under the Irish Sea from Britain, possibly Wales to Dublin and since Scotland and Northern Ireland are so close, then why not build a sturdy bridge that crosses both countries over as they have in Scandinavia? As long as there is no lasting damage to the environment and it’s cheap as the Channel Tunnel seems to be, then it can only benefit this island of ours more than a ridiculous high-speed network that will destroy short-term more than it will fix long-term. It seems crazy to me that Britain and Ireland are not closely linked like we are to Europe via the Channel Tunnel. Terrorism from Ireland isn’t the threat it once was anymore for we all want peace and prosperity and in a time when both countries are struggling, a tunnel and/or a bridge could unite us all like never before and bring more money in from both sides of the Irish Sea.

I’m sure that they will go ahead with HS2 anyway no matter what we do or say when they should be focusing their plans elsewhere.

It’s time that they heard us and abandon price hikes and a high-speed rail link and improve on what we already have for when the system works well, it is amongst the best in the world. Unfortunately though, it is not moving with a 24 hour population that is constantly on the move.

It’s always the customer and the low paid that suffers for something that is never perfect anyway. We can only hope that the right decision is made very soon and the money is used correctly. I love the train and the bus comes in handy even though it is the more frustrating mode of transport for they don’t always turn up when they should and don’t apologise for it either. the amount of times I have been stranded because the last bus has not turned up to get me home from another town. This can happen with the train but they at least lay on a coach to get you home. They need to improve yes, but fix what is wrong first before building new networks and raising prices that cripple those it is meant to benefit.