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.
This just about sums up the approach of our current Government! Quote from Dr Strangelove 1964.
” They (politicians) have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought”
And the result is HS2 Route 3
“There is no money to pay for it” is such an appropriate Stop HS2 slogan.
There seems not to be enough money to pay for our current railways, for updating the railway infrastructure and for the companies running the railways to make any profit – hence these fare increases.
Train fares will need to keep going up, even with the Government allocating lots of money from the transport budget, as the cost of our railways is unlikely to go down – on the contrary continuing development and profit making will be increasingly costly.
By the time HS2 is operational would anyone like to hazard a guess at how much a season ticket for London/Manchester will cost?
If the fares for that route today are cumulatively increased by 4.2% per annum up to 2026 (or 2033 if taking the Y-route), and wages are not inflated to match this increase, then you can indeed expect, as Mr. Hammond described, HS2 will only be for rich people.