Wednesday, 9 May 2007

This isn't the Age of the Train 2

Since posting about the difficulties and cost of travelling by train in the UK, South West Trains (which despite the name, runs services in South-East and Southern England too) has raised its fare prices by 20%, after an earlier rise of 4% (still above UK inflation) and a 20% rise on its car parking fees. Even off-peak, it now costs £42 (€61; US$84) to travel from Southampton to London a distance of about 75 miles (120 Km), though there is also Megatrain which does tickets for £1, so I suppose you could argue that competition helps, though Megatrain has only a single carriage and piggybacks on another train service.

When thinking about the title, it reminded me of one issue which fortunately has been rectified and that is the age of the rolling stock. In the 1990s there was a crash on the buffers at Waterloo station in London and it was found that the carriage damaged had been built in 1938. Now at least most companies are buying newer carriages, though anyone who has travelled on trains in France or Germany knows that the UK has a long way to go to match the quality of their rolling stock.

With all the worry about the 'carbon footprint' and government steps at encouraging people to use public transport it seems mad that the rail companies, who are making very healthy profits in the millions, are driving people to their cars by providing only a very expensive and complex service to use.

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