National and Local politics from a Liberal Democrat from Gillingham, Kent
Tuesday, 1 January 2013
January Southeastern Fare rise
With the new year comes a fresh fare increase to Southeastern train's customers. Hard pressed commuters will be asked to fork out RPI +1 % on their tickets.
Indeed my ticket, a monthly season ticket from Gillingham to London not valid on the tube or HS1 will rise to something like £352s or roughly £4200 PA which is 20% of my £20.000 PA wage.
As a commuter and someone on a low to medium income with a mortgage and two children it is more money that I can ill afford and something I have consistently campaigned and written about on these very pages. I've also written to my MP, Rehman Chisthi who passed it to Theresa Villiers as well as Medway's other MPs Mark Reckless and Tracey Crouch.
RPI+1 is not a great outcome but it is an acceptable outcome. I've got a 2% breathing room which is better than a kick in the proverbials.
I'm not a Tory (no really!) but I know that the current incumbents fought hard over the last year to lower the fare increases that had been announced at the budget as RPI+3 to a more affordable RPI+1 and for that I give thanks.
Despite the other debacles that rocked the Department of Transport, such as the West Coast line franchise and blooper and with the state of the economy RPI+1 was the best we could hope for on the grand scale of things however much I, and many others on low to medium income prayed for a freeze or just an RPI rise!
RPI+1 was the position that the MPs in the Coalition (Both Conservative and Liberal Democrat) agreed upon and something that the Labour party put forward at an Opposition day motion and one that was very hotly debated and watched by commuters like myself with great interest!
Although I am confused as why the current PPC for Labour in Chatham and Aylesford whose press release stated:
Regular commuter and Parliamentary candidate Tristan Osborne has attacked the SouthEastern fare rise as a another Tory tax rise on low and middle income working people, and calls on Conservative MPs to stop the constant lip-service and call for the Department of Transport to sort out the fare and franchise mess
Even though it is by the amount that Labour wanted - I -
Y'know, bugger it, I'm not making any political point here, partially because I don't need to, words have failed me so I'm just going to skip on by.
What I am saying is, that RPI+1 was the best I guess we could have hoped for, not the best solution for people like myself but the best the Government and the companies were willing to offer and I would like to thank my representatives for fighting as hard as they did just to secure this little victory.
I echo Cllr Osborne's call for the Franchise to be sorted out, many suffering commuters will agree with me that Southeastern are far from perfect and that there are certainly big gaping holes in their customer service and state of their trains. stations and facilities which do not offer value for money and I would like to encourage local representatives of ALL parties to work together in our interest and try and sort this mess out.
I agree that the railways could end up becoming a rich man's transport and this is something that needs to be reversed before those on low incomes who commute to the capital find themselves forced to give up work because they simply cannot afford the price of transport.