The frauds of humanity: rail fares

The frauds of humanity: rail fares

There are some things we encounter in our lives which we will disagree with. But to be a dissident is not seen as the norm, because such practices are ingrained in our daily lives, societies and cultures. There are a plethora of human frauds which exist and which I will be writing about every so often. The first one which seems entirely relevant this week is the notion of our country’s rail fares.

I am not in the minority for feeling anger at the inflation rate. But it is easy to feel robbed when wages are not rising in the same way.

It was only yesterday that I read on the Telegraph that a watchdog recommended passengers to split their train tickets for a single fare to save money. A lot of us have probably been doing this for some time through various websites, but it is almost farcical that this is now an official recommendation.

Of course, it has now been revealed today that rail fares are rising by 3.6%, in line with July’s Retail Price Index (RPI). For how incompetent and unreliable this country’s rail system is, we still have the most expensive rail fares in Europe. Further inflation just adds to the pockets of the private owners. Back in 2013, it was revealed on the Guardian that for every £1 invested, £2.47 is received by the “railway barons”. I cannot even imagine what this return may be today.

Personally, a savings account which had the same effect would make me go straight down to the bank to set one up.

Unfortunately, the inflated fares just do not work for the ordinary people – the commuters, the passengers visiting their family, those who cannot obtain the means to their own car, those who must visit a sick relative or friend last minute.

Just this morning too, I saw on the BBC that London Waterloo should be avoided as a South West train had derailed. While an £800m refurbishment project is ongoing, this station makes up one of the busiest for commuters, with an average of 270,000 journeys made daily.

Increased fares may be worth it if passengers are reassured that delays can be reduced to a set target, or engineering works are kept to the minimum necessary without disturbing daily commutes to and from the workplace.

However, it seems that most of the investment into rail engineering is concentrated to London, and the rest of the UK, particularly the North, is disregarded. This is more than opinion, it is a fact. The government already favours London when allocating how much money is to be spent throughout the country. It is the question of spending money where it is most needed (up North) or where it will have the most impact (London) – due to the density of commuters in London and how expensive it will cost to replace the old Pacer trains prevalent in the North. The government are then obviously going to prefer making small engineering works to one of London’s up-to-date trains, saving much more money.

It remains to be seen what effect the rising fares will have on train refurbishment and replacement. Perhaps it is in line with the HS2 developments, aiming to bring the high speed train service across the country, sponsored by the government? Of course, London to the West Midlands gets the priority in Phase 1 of the plan.

As Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs Association leader, describes the inflated fares, “Dick Turpin [exploitative highwayman from the 18th century] had the decency to wear a mask when he robbed his passengers. Today train companies, with the Government’s blessing, hide behind the Retail Price Index as a method of legitimately fleecing more money from hard-pressed passengers at the start of each new year.”

In a country like ours, the disparity between the rich and poor grows wider at the expense of those in employment, – already forking out substantial percentages of their salary just on transport, and at the benefit of the greedy, private owners – supported by our very own government. Is this not a human fraud?

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