Yesterday a story broke about the first UK train fare of over £1000.
The lib dem candidate for my local parliamentary constituency, Nader Fekri has already commented on this. I find myself agreeing with Nader on many things, but I disagree on one point.
It is obvious that ridiculously high fares are encouraging people to abandon the trains in favour of their cars.
I disagree. I think people are abandoning the train and their cars in favour of staying at home and not spending money. The recession has made many people worse off, and many more aware of the limitations of their pockets. This is what is driving people away from the trains.
£1002 is a walk up first class fare. You can fly to the continent for £25, if you book in advance for economy class, and make great savings on the trains if you plan ahead too. Some people say it is ridiculous that you can get such cheap train fares by booking in advance, or by playing the system by split ticketing or other methods. I don’t agree, I think it’s a good thing that organised and savvy people are rewarded by the system. No-one is going to pay £1002 for a train ticket because no-one will journey from Newquay to Kyle of Lochalsh at the drop of a hat on a first class ticket.
People know that there are savings to be made. The ways of getting them are complex, but not unfathomable to the average man in the street.
That’s not to say there isn’t a problem. While I believe it’s fair that walk up fares are higher than those obtained with a little planning, I also think the levels of standard class walk-up fares are ridiculous. Yes it is right that someone can be rewarded for their nous with cheaper fares, but it is wrong that walk up fares are ridiculously high! So while it’s OK for people to make savings, walk up fares should still be reasonable.
Anyway, this story in conjunction with last night’s TV reminded me of when Sarah and I paid over £1000 on a train fare. Not just the news, but the programme before it too! Our train journey was not in the UK, however but a once in a lifetime experience travelling from Moscow to Beijing.