Ever since HS2 was proposed, STOP HS2 has pointed out that existing rail users would suffer as a result.
Low and behold, today we are told that rail fares are to rise on AVERAGE 6.2 % (Some rises are over 12%) to pay for investment. Please read more on as covered in the Independent and an excellent article in the Yorkshire Post today.
Commuters are quite understandably furious. Never mind the fury what about those trying to get to work and feed their families with rising unemployment and inflation squeezing every penny out of not luxuries but essentials like food and utility bills. Not everyone’s company pays for their tickets and even if they do can businesses really afford it?
Rail bosses defend the above inflation rise however with Michael Roberts of the ATOC saying on the BBC that “the rises were part of a government policy to make rail passengers pay a greater share of the cost than taxpayers”. That would suggest the fares on HS2 will be astronomical if they do intend not to let the taxpayer carry the risk (contrary to HS2 Ltd’s evidence at the TSC).
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said today:
“One thing’s for sure, passengers will be paying inflation-busting fare increases to travel on overcrowded services while the train companies are laughing all the way to the bank.”
Jo deBank, from rail passenger group London TravelWatch, said: “The huge fare rises will hit passengers particularly hard in what is a difficult time for many people. We are alarmed that this dramatic rise could drive passengers off trains”
Lets look at this democratically. Who is happy with this? Answer – the rail companies and the government including many foreign companies who play a large part in lobbying our government for example Deutsche Bahn; “Arriva was acquired by Deutsche Bahn (DB) in August. And while the state-owned rail company of Germany will raise fares.. it has instituted a fares freeze in its homeland.”
Who is unhappy? Rail users and rail passenger groups across the board.
So what about the investment promised? Apparently the fare hikes will be to pay for new rolling stock. “Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the Government had to “invest in Britain’s future” and the new carriages would “help make our railways fit for the 21st century”. However there are serious concerns raised in the Independent today.
Here is an extract from an article on transport spending cuts from the Freight Transport Association today.
“Department for Transport (DfT) has an annual budget of £13.6bn and a 25% reduction would mean a cut of £3.4bn. The following cuts have already been agreed.
- Local authority grants to be reduced by £309m
- Transport for London (TfL) to get £108m less
- Network Rail to cut spending by £100m
- DfT to make £112m savings in its direct expenditure”
Total cuts on the existing network to date £629 million whereas HS2 has already spent £200 million and is committed to spending £750 million this parliament. Is this the best use of public money? No it is not. “Reuse, reduce and recycle” comes to mind, invest in what we have, reduce the need for travel by investing in sustainable alternatives and recycle the land already blighted by transport infrastructure. You can do it Mr Cameron and you can do it now.
The RMT are already threatening national strikes, we can see many commuters supporting them as well as many STOPHS2 supporters.