Passengers feel rail fare hike indefensible, unjustified

Published on : Friday, January 4, 2019

Rail fare hikes have added about £100 annually to the price of some yearly season tickets, but passengers are unconvinced that they are getting the service they are paying for.


Total delays on the rail network in Britain added up to a combined 283,904 hours in the year to the middle of October 2018. That works out as more than 1,690 weeks or about 32 years’ worth of delays.


The Office of Rail and Road said total delay hours increased 22 per cent since 2008-9, compared with a 10 per cent increase in the number of trains running.


Network Rail, which owns and manages most of Great Britain’s railway infrastructure, took the blame for the majority of the delays. The lack of key staff – such as drivers and guards – was behind more of the time lost to delays (25,335 hours) than the weather (18,907 hours) in the year up to mid-October 2018.


This included 5,542 hours of delays because train crew shortages caused knock-on problems for other operators.


The lack of reliability has eroded goodwill among passengers.


Stewart Frank kept a count of his commute and found 100 trains in a row he travelled on to or from work in Leeds were late.


“It’s disgraceful that fares have gone up,” he said. “We can’t rely on the service.


“I stand on the platform and the sign says it’s two minutes delayed, then four minutes, then eight and then 10. If people knew it wasn’t coming they could at least try to make other plans.”


He and his wife Anca commute together and pay more than £300 a month each.
“It was already a ridiculous price but when you don’t know if you’re going to be at work on time or home more than an hour late it is just not worth it.”


James Vasey, of the Bradford Rail Users Group, said he would previously have defended the fare increases but could not do so this year.


“This year I can’t defend it because as passengers we are not getting what we’re paying for. We haven’t had the improvements or the new carriages we were promised. On strike days people have had to make sure not to travel after 17:30. At weekends they’ve had to avoid making plans that rely on the trains, yet they’re being told to pay more for it.”


However, train companies apologise to passengers frequently for delayed and cancelled services.


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