Friday 21st July 2017

No train, no gain, much pain

Train Prices
Train (not) fares!

Train fares in Britain will go up by an average of 2.3% from 2nd January, the rail industry announced today

 ‘Campaigners said passengers would be disappointed by the increase.’

Too bloody right we are! It is already expensive.

I travel by train a lot and have lost count of the times that I have cancelled trips to see friends or auditions because I could not afford the train fares. I also direct a festival for a charity and so I am often travelling to get to different theatres around the country. The return train fares (London to Hull, for example) often cost a lot more than my wages.

Then there’s the actual service we get for our money.

I have been in a dispute with Virgin Trains since August as both trains to and from my friend’s wedding in Yorkshire were delayed by three hours each. I am owed £50 compensation and it has taken nearly four months to get that due to the ‘backlog’ of delay repay claims over the summer. So, I am not filled with confidence this company is also trying to take over cancer care…

I spent the last six months living in Colchester for half the week and I would say that 50% of the time the ‘train journey’ that I paid for has instead been a rail replacement bus. Thanks Abellio!

There seems to be this small silver lining though:

‘From 11th December, passengers on Southern Rail will additionally be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late.’

Well, I am moving to a flat next to a tube on 10th December precisely because Southern Rail has been so awful. I’ve also come up with a new slogan for them – Southern Rail: the only way to travel 6 miles in 90 minutes. From what I can tell, during my times of rage at London Bridge, the trains are often cancelled because the driver has not turned up. So, I would hazard a guess that perhaps staff morale is not at its highest. They should look into that! But I have to also mention that Thameslink often cancels three trains in a row due to signal failures, so are they any better? I actually don’t care why the trains are late, because the people I am temping for will still dock my pay and companies I work for on a self-employed basis might not re-hire me in the future.

What merits these increases?

‘Some unregulated fares are likely to rise by considerably more than 2.3%. That far outstrips the inflation rate, which is currently running at 0.9%, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index.’

I think there needs to be a general index applied. So, if wages are staying the same or decreasing, so should travel, a loaf of bread, rent prices, etc. Otherwise, when everything becomes privatised and costs more, it affects people disproportionately. This then brings in even more polarisation of wealth, which could lead to alliances breaking, the rise of extreme right wing governments no matter how mad/racist/sexist they are, further wars…oh, wait a minute…

And what about climate change?

‘The Donald’ infamously may not believe in it but the scientists do. It’s often cheaper to fly or drive to a place than it is to catch the train, but it’s nowhere near as environmentally friendly. How can we be having G20 conferences at the same time as increasing already extortionate rail fares, putting people off further from travelling by rail?

However, I have experienced excellent train travel in Italy, France, and Belgium where an hour’s journey can cost as little as five euros. Apparently people living in Europe pay a far smaller salary percentage than we do in the UK.

Thank all that is holy that London mayor Sadiq Khan has frozen fares for TFL for the next four years, at least…

What can we do now?

Here are three ways to save:

Super short term – Use Tickety Split (splitting my fare from Wales to Yorkshire once meant I saved the charity I work for a whopping £60. Win!).

Short term – Book in advance (ideally 12 weeks).

Long term – Back the re-nationalisation of the railways.

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Nadia Nadif

Nadia Nadif

Mouthy blogger

Nadia works as an actress and runs the theatre company Untold Arts. In career quiet times she teaches, temps and babysits.

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