Friday, 12 October 2012

Rail prices to rise but only at RPI+1


My monthly season ticket
As many of my regular readers or followers on Twitter will know I'm a commuter. I travel to London most days from Gillingham. Unlike some commuters I don't earn a large amount of money, in fact I've had to move around in my job and get a position with more pay just to stay ahead of the increases. Unfortunately I have reached the end of the promotion chain for the moment and with the Museum industry facing cuts I can only look forward to a 1% pay rise this year. This would mean that I would definitely need to find a new job next year as if fares had gone up by RPI+3 in 2013 I'd be losing money going to work!

So you can imagine I am ecstatic that I get to keep my job for the moment.

Personally this is something that transcends party politics for me. Personally I don't care who does it, how they do it or who voted what - just so long as my fares stay affordable and to be honest the majority of commuters feel the same.

None of the parties are blameless in this struggle. Yeah the Tories ballsed up privatisation almost two decades ago which has lead to some disastrous franchises like Connex but Labour imposed RPI+3 on the Kent commuter to pay for HS1, a service most of us can't afford to use. Then Labour relaxed it for the election year in 2010 to +1. George Osborne then tried to raise it to RPI+3 and again the parties began to squabble.

Daala at Tssos Beacon
As I read political blogs from both sides playing football with this, PMQs and indeed even Maria Eagle's opening comments and answers within the Opposition day motion to cap fairs at RPI+1 I think back to my favourite book as a teenager. In Darksaber Admiral Daala gathers all of the embattled Imperial warlords and demand they reach a solution to the power struggle and redirect their powers against the Republic. After three hours of squabbling she loses her temper and gasses the lot and takes over herself. Like Warlords Harrsk and Teradoc the lead politicians and politicos seem to have lost sight of the reason this is a debate in the first place and are to busy trying to score political points over each other.

I should point out that I am not suggesting that we gas Parliament!

When I first read the Opposition day motion on capping RPI+1 I thought this is a good motion, clearly something that needs to be debated. However as I read it I became more and more disillusioned by the whole affair as I read the transcript of the whole thing. It was slowly evolving into a stick to beat the Conservative Government with and to score points rather than for the voters - or so the language of the answers led me to believe. I have since written to Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch about the motion and asked why they didn't vote for it and the response was that the whole thing was thoroughly opportunistic and that they had abstained. However Tracey did manage to get a meeting with the Secretary of state to be attended by other North Kent MPs. It is they who have secured the 1% rise in this meeting.

Here is what she said;

I am sure that I shall like my right hon. Friend better in his new role than in his last.
The shadow Secretary of State was kind enough to quote accurately comments that I made to my local newspaper reflecting my constituents’ concern about rail fare increases. I said that I would continue to make representations on the matter. Rather than succumbing to the political opportunism displayed by the Opposition, who imposed RPI plus 3% uniquely on south-eastern commuters, will my right hon. Friend meet me, and fellow Kent Members, to engage in a substantive conversation about rail fares and services for our constituents?

However I'm sure many commuters, like myself, will just be jubilant that someone was listening and that someone has done something to keep the fairs affordable for at least another year, so I guess yet again I find myself saying - Thanks Tracey et-al.

I also want to just briefly talk about Nationalisation of railways. There is alot of talk recently of going back to the good ol' days of National rail and all I can say is - are you crazy?

Don't get me wrong I loved BR trains as a kid, I love slam door trains, the uniforms, the colours , the fact you could travel as a kid from Gillingham to Marden for £1!!!! (Seriously - it costs £5.75 for an adult now a days)

Can you remember the horrendous crashes in the late 80's early 90's? Cannon street? The danger of the old rolling stock? Can you imagine the bumbling government ineptness that has made a pig's ear of most of the NHS still controlling our railways? Whose to say that RPI+3 would not have gone on anyway? Would we be seeing a similar lack of investment in our railways that we had seen in the 80's and what we're seeing in other Government administrated departments?

Personally, and as much as I dislike Southeastern, I find myself saying maybe we should stick with the private companies. I travelled on Great Western a month ago and it was fantastic, plenty of staff, clean stations and trains, everything running well - they were a franchise i enjoyed travelling on. I can't imagine a Nationalised rail providing anywhere near the same level of service.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sort of in between, I think the current privatized franchise system isn't working but then going back to a nationalized service would be just as bad.

    The solution? I currently don't know*, but I'm thinking something in the middle of what we have now.

    The levels of public funds that seem to be going into some of the franchises to support them is just wrong. I mean most of the franchise agreements have clauses for this so a lot get support simply because they aren't performing... whats the incentive if you know you'll get 90% guaranteed?

    It's a difficult one to answer.

    * I do have a few ideas but keeping them to myself for now ;-)