One of the many assumptions which underlie the HS2 Ltd’s case for a new high speed railway railway is that ticket prices on HS2 trains will be the same as on conventional speed trains. This assumption was described as “bonkers” by Margaret Hodge at the Public Accounts Committee last April.
Widely reported yesterday was the increase in train fares – averaging at about 4%, but with some routes seeing much higher increases.
HS2 assumption on fares is not even borne out by reality – train companies do charge more for faster journeys. For example yesterday’s Independent reports that the London Virgin service from London Euston to Macclesfield will cost £145 for “walk up passengers:
“Among “walk-up” customers, only the most pressed – or those on expenses – will stump up £145 to travel with Virgin when operators such as London Midland will get you there for 60 per cent less.”
Would having a new high speed line make a difference?
It has for Kent – with higher than average rises. London 24 report that “some Kent commuters are facing above-average rises, with season tickets to London from Ramsgate, Folkestone, Canterbury, Deal and Dover all going up by around 4.8 per cent.”
What’s worse for Kent commuters is that a season ticket from Sevonoaks has increased by nearly 90% over the last decade.
Philip Hammond described railways as a rich man’s toy, and said a factory worker from Manchester might never use HS2 – even if a new line to the Midlands might make a difference to rail fares, HS2 won’t open to passengers until 2026.