The big news on the railways this week is the expected train fare rise in January, which follows on from the release of inflation data. Due to the way increases are calculated, based on Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation measure for July, it will be the highest increase since January 2013.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said that the rise will pay for improvements on the railways, stating
“We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers – providing faster and better trains with more seats. We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger. We are driving the industry hard to improve efficiency to ensure we maximise the value of passengers’ and taxpayers’ investment in the railways.
The thing is, in July in the same week, the Department for Transport also announced the go ahead for Phase 2b of HS2 but also dropped a number of other improvements in the railways, such as a large part of the electrification program. That would have been bad enough for ‘joined-up government’ but having dropped rail electrification, which was entirely under the government’s control, they then said that they would be aiming to have petrol and diesel cars replaced by electric, which is dependent on millions of motorists.
What is very clear is that there seems to be unlimited cash for HS2, which will only benefit a few, but on ordinary commuter routes used by the many the prices go up and the improvements go down.