In today’s article, Alex Graham talks about the expense of rail travel and the potential wider economic impacts it has.
As I sit down to write this blog post, we are 3 days into 2017. My Christmas stocking has been put away for another year, although the extra calories I consumed over the festive period will be harder to shift, I have (just about) overcome my New Year’s hangover and today, like the majority of my fellow workers, I am heading back to the office after their festive holidays.
The holiday season is a notoriously expensive yet going back to work might be even more so. Whether you drive to work or cycle or, like 1.4 million people in this country (ONS Figures, 2013), take the train to the office, 2017 is going to see people spending an even greater amount of money on transport to their jobs.
This article will concentrating solely on those taking the train. The average cost of a ticket has increased by 27%, 3 times faster than wages, since David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010. Cost increases in the north are particularly hard hitting. For example, since 2010 a 12 month season ticket from my nearest train station, Rainhill- the birth place of passenger rail travel- to Manchester Victoria has increased by £648 while the price of a season ticket from Chester to Manchester has increased by £740 during that time.
When the Tories took office, we were promised that higher prices would lead to higher investment in the railways. This is again the line that was trotted out on BBC News this morning. Like many members of the public, I wouldn’t mind paying more money if the rail services were better run, the trains were cleaner and faster and more of them arrived on time. The reality is that many vital infrastructure projects have been put back because of spending cuts and commuters have been paying to improve the profit margins of the rail company’s shareholders without seeing an equal improvement in the service they receive.
The Tories have often claimed they want to ‘make work pay’. By pursuing policies that allow rail prices increases they make it more expensive for people to get to work and disincentivise work, especially for the lowest paid in society. This is not just hypocritical and going against their own rhetoric, it’s economically incompetent and just one more example of the Tories’ failure to deliver on the basics for a fair and modern economy.
We need a rail service that is run for people, not for profit. This is why I support the plans of the Labour Party to bring the railways back into public ownership. Under Labour’s plans there would be increased investment in a 21st century rail infrastructure including publicly owned high speed rail, fairer fares and a stronger voice for passengers in how decisions are made.
This is a modern, fair and economically competent rail system for our 21st century world and I would encourage you all to vote Labour to help remove the Tories from office and end this RailFail. For more information about Labour’s Campaign, please visit http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/rail or check out Twitter under #Railfail on or around Tuesday 3rd of January.