Rail Fares Increases Improve Cycle Safety

Pubished 14th December

London - Fares Increases to fund the DfT’s inadequacies, safety or better railways?

The Government has confirmed that train companies will increase Regulated fares by an average of 3.9% from January 2013. It could have been a higher increase, but as with fuel duty, the Government scaled down the expected RPI plus 3% increase. Some fares will increase by more, but some by less giving the average increase of 3.9%.

The Train Companies’ ‘Trade Association’ (ATOC) said:

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, (ATOC) said:

“Fare rises are determined largely by government policy, and the Chancellor confirmed the government’s approach for next year in the Autumn Statement.

“Railway funding can only come from the taxpayer or from the passenger, and the government’s policy remains that a bigger share must come from people who use the train.

“We know nobody likes paying more for their journey, especially to go to work. Train companies will continue working with the rest of the industry to become more cost efficient, helping to take the pressure off future fare rises.”

Rail.co.uk comments:

The comment by ATOC makes no mention that railway safety is running at very high levels as is investment. The efficiencies mentioned have yet to appear in any meaningful way but are being budgeted for from April 2014 when the next five year funding period commences.

One of the spin-offs from railway safety investment is probably best illustrated by improving road safety as a targeted policy. Crossrail is the largest UK rail investment scheme costing £16 billion and will create an east-west main line railway across London.

A project this size depends on plant and materials being provided on time and safely. To become an accredited Crossrail supplier for example there is a raft of qualifications to be achieved.

Road Safety Standards for rail workers

Take the Keyline lorry drivers as the example. Their lorries are fitted with cameras, audible and visual warnings to cyclists and a driver’s monitor in the cab. Lorry drivers are also fitted with many mirrors to allow drivers all-round vision so they can see other road users and pedestrians.

These are all mandatory requirements for Crossrail suppliers and this increases the cost of construction, but hugely improves safety for others not connected to railways. Network Rail and Transport for London also run similar safety accreditation for their suppliers also improving road and site safety.

However, there was no mention by ATOC of the possibly hundreds of millions of pounds extra cost created by the Department of Transport’s franchise fiasco. Once the DfT has created a stable environment for franchising to recommence, it will probably take many years to claw back the extra expenditure incurred though.

Day of Action by Rail Unions

Rail unions held a day of action at 50 stations on December 11 where they handed out Christmas cards to passengers with the message that fares were going up to fund profits as staff and train cuts were made.

The RMT member at Wolverton who tried to hand out these cards was asked to leave the station by the London Midland (LM) staff on duty. While this action is highly dubious, it highlights why the demonstration was made as Wolverton station is a microcosm of the current railway complexity.

London Midland Lease the site from Network Rail (NR) who partnered the local council in a funding package for the new station building. The opening was due to be in May but contractual wrangles with NR, LM and the Council led to the location of a drain being unresolved and the contractors walking away. The cost overrun is now estimated at 20% of the total planned expenditure and the scheme will be almost a year late for completion next April at the earliest.

The Unions ignored the huge ongoing investment in new railways and trains which hopefully is where the increased fare revenue will fund. There was also no mention of the 1000 plus trains cancelled due to an overtime ban by drivers on London Midland services since August…….

They were likewise silent in the record rail passenger numbers being carried at the moment……..

New Railways and major upgrades

Investment is bringing back into use formerly closed routes and a major electrification program across the UK. Reinstated lines now being built are Bedford-Aylesbury-Bicester-Oxford and the Borders Line between Tweedbank and Edinburgh.

Major UK-wide program of electrification such as The Great Western Main Line between London, Bristol and Cardiff. Northern Hub network, Liverpool-Manchester-Leeds-York will bring a new network.

How to save money with rail travel

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Season - Unlimited travel between two stations for a specified period

Advance tickets are quota controlled, as with budget airlines so the earlier you can book, the cheaper you can travel.

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