My rail fare was increased by 5.3% yesterday along with above-inflation fare hikes from most train operating companies. This amounts to an extra £60 per year for me, assuming daily tickets and traveling 47 out of 52 weeks, which equates to about 12 days’ worth of travel at the previous rates. This is quite annoying, and although it doesn’t quite make rail travel unworkable for me, another price increase and I will have to seriously question it. This would be a shame, because I’m one of the few people in the country for whom rail travel is physically convenient.
The rail companies claim that they “need” this extra money in order to fund improvements in the railway system, which is the same excuse we’ve had for year upon year upon year with little return on the promises made. In fact, the only major railway infrastructure development that’s taken place since privatisation is the electrification of the West Coast Mainline, which is currently the subject of another fiasco, which, thankfully, does not affect me. I’d be pretty fucking annoyed if it did though, especially considering the fare hikes.
However, what does rile me is when, on the day when the fare hikes came into effect, my train home was six minutes late, leaving me and my fellow passengers freezing our tits off on the platform. What provision in the Passenger Charter is made for this sort of delay? None. I’d have to freeze my tits off for an hour before Northern Rail would even think about giving a proportion of my extortionate fare back.
Then this morning, the guard on the 08:32 watched me buy my ticket from his colleague, then closed the doors of the train as I was approaching it. He just shrugged at me through the window, in the fully knowledge that I intended to board the train and that I was being held up by his incompetent ticket-vending mate. Fucking unacceptable, they’re just taking the fucking piss.
Like I say, rail travel still just about suits me, but another fare increase and further examples of this sort of contempt for their customers will probably put me back in a car. That would definitely be a shame.