We pay more

If you live in Edinburgh and get a job paid at minimum wage, you would need to work for four hours to buy your return rail ticket to Glasgow.

Actually, you would have to work for five hours, because you probably wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a £3000+ annual season ticket.

Travelling by bus will take at least half an hour more either way (an additional hour’s commute time) but cost about 75% less.

A petition to renationalise the railways got 12,194 signatures before it closed on 4th August this year.

Research by the Scottish Greens [Yes, they looked it up on the Internet and everything] has found that the current cost of a 12-month season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow (£3380) is more than the cost of a 12-month ticket that gives you unlimited travel across the whole of Germany’s 21,000 mile network (£3252/€3990). After today’s announcement, the cost of this season ticket is expected to rise by £142 in January.

Edinburgh Fringe: A Beginner’s Diary:

I fly. I know; so bourgeois. I don’t feel good about it, but it was half as expensive as the train, and I am very poor. It isn’t me that needs to change, you guys. IT’S THE SYSTEM. It takes 50 minutes, and is ludicrously easy. I feel like I can begin to understand why rich people are always such thoughtless dicks about things.

Theresa Villiers, who seems to be getting referred to as “Rail Minister” a lot – who knew we had one? – last year called these fare rises “difficult” decisions and blamed the budget deficit.

The rises are part of the government’s agenda to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the rail network.

There appears to be a steady delusion among Conservatives that if you pay taxes, you don’t travel by train.

Theresa Villiers, by the way, doesn’t seem to travel by train. In the Guardian’s detailed listing of MP expenses, her travel costs are low – and by rail are zero.

Not that she’s shy of claiming when she wants to: in January 2008 she used her MP expenses to help her buy a £345,000 flat in Kennington, south London when she switched to the second home allowance bonus – claiming £18,181 in total. As the Telegraph noted: she already owned a house in her north London constituency of Chipping Barnet.

The house, a semi-detached property that she bought for £296,500 in May 2004, is an eight-minute drive away from High Barnet Underground station, from which commuters can reach Westminster in about 45 minutes.

But evidently Villiers does not care to travel by train. Why pay a expensive fare and mingle when you can use £18,181 of taxpayer’s money to help buy you a nice flat worth a third of a million and claim £2000 a year “mileage” instead? That £18,181 would have bought six annual season tickets between Barnet and London, by the way. I wonder if Villiers even knew that?

RPI – the retail price index – is a measure of inflation published monthly by the Office for National Statistics which measures changes in the cost of goods and services.

For the past few years the formula for fare increases has generally been RPI inflation plus 1%, but for the next three years it is RPI plus 3%.

The formula affects regulated fares, such as season tickets and long-distance off-peak tickets. Some fares will go up by far more than the 8% average, because train companies are allowed to increase fares by another 5% on top, as long as that is balanced with reductions elsewhere.

The Daily Record interviewed commuters in Glasgow Central – Care assistant Maureen Docherty, 52, from Prestwick, Ayrshire, said:

“I frequently have to come up to Glasgow on the train for a training scheme and I’m sickened by this.

“It’s all about profits and there’s no need for this much of an increase. The Government are trying to encourage more people on to the trains, yet they’re making it too expensive to do it.

“My son is a student and is paying £230 a month on a student budget to get to Glasgow from Prestwick.

“So this is really going to affect him. I don’t know what he’ll do.”

First Group, which has consistently profited from transport privatisation, has got the franchise to run the West Coast line from Virgin Trains.

ITV this morning:

The Rail Union RMT said it will mount a massive campaign to defend jobs and services. They will ballot for industrial action claiming FirstGroup won the InterCity franchise from Virgin on the basis of 20% cuts across the board and a billion pound black hole.

If true, it’s not as if those 20% cuts will be reflected in rail fares.

Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport, claims

“The new franchise would deliver big improvements for passengers, with more seats and plans for more services.”

This is the government that thought G4S would deliver 10,000 security personnel for the Olympics. That was planning to hand BSkyB to Rupert Murdoch only days before the hacking scandal revealed that the Murdoch family, father and son, have no idea that their employees are paying crooked private investigators thousands to illegally hack into their phones. This is the government that still keeps paying A4e after their employees keep getting indicted for fraud.

There was a joke in Newsthump a few years ago that the Scots had implemented a thousand pound rail fare “to keep out the Cornish”. Not a very funny joke. A return fare from Penzance to Edinburgh will cost you £427.

Theresa Villiers claimed last year that the “long-term solution” is to make it cheaper for private companies to run train services to

“get a better deal for passengers and taxpayers”.

Mutually exclusive groups, apparently. She added – August 2011

that revenue from fares enabled the government to “continue to deliver much-needed improvements on the rail network, improving conditions for passengers and helping to strengthen economic growth”.

Because obviously, it’s so helpful to economic growth to have people unable to commute to work by train.

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