From: Tony Plumbe, Chair, Rail Group, West & North Yorkshire Branch of Campaign for Better Transport.
THE rail fare increases being implemented this week are unjustified given the performance record of the operators TransPennine Express and Northern.
Customers have been subject to abysmal standards of performance over the past year with cancelled, delayed and short formation trains causing time wasting, inconvenience and perpetuating overcrowding. The rail industry has a cheek to use its monopolist power to jack up prices. Increased revenue should be achieved by attracting patronage, not deterring it.
The travelling public have not forgotten their suffering during the rail strikes of 2018 in the North. We see regular annual fares increases but no improvement in productivity.
Fare increases have little to do with investment in railway infrastructure, as the Rail Discovery Group would have us believe.
Rail fare increases are further unjustified while there is a failure to increase road use prices in line with inflation.
As the Office for Budget Responsibility observed in 2019: “The main rate of fuel duty was cut by one pence at Budget 2011 to 57.95 pence per litre and has been frozen at this rate ever since.
“In real terms (deflated by whole economy prices), the headline rate has fallen by around 12 per cent over the past seven years, lowering revenues as a share of GDP.”
All this does is to encourage more car use with its associated deleterious effects on everyone’s health through emissions. The same issue applies to the other main competitor to long-distance rail, namely aviation where its fuel is not taxed at all, and so not subject to any inflation escalator or environmental levy.
From: Jeff Thomas, Strait Lane, Huby, Leeds.
IS it not time that the new Government read the ‘riot act’ to Northern and Trans-Pennine Express with regard to this week’s fare increases (Tom Richmond, The Yorkshire Post, January 2)?
Surely the catastrophic mess they have both made of the introduction of the winter timetable changes in December should have been more than enough for Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, to put the increase “on hold” until such time as the timetabling is stabilised?
Or perhaps the only solution now is to relieve both operators of their franchise?