Season ticket holders are facing an average 4.2% increase in rail fares. The average increase is 3.9%. The social, economic and environmental benefits of increasing rail travel are clear. Is it time to debate nationalising these essential but inefficient private monopolies?
Contrary to campaigners howls of indignation, a decade of above inflation rises are far from driving people of the railways. The annual number of UK rail passengers (1.2 billion) and passenger journeys (1.3 billion) is at the highest point since the 1920s, having risen steadily since 1994.
Today, the UK has one of the most expensive rail systems in Europe, with some of the highest peak hour and lowest off-peak fares. By profiteering on the essential commuting journeys, ten of the 17 franchises paid healthy dividends to their shareholders.
In February, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Beeching Report, which ultimately led to the closure of a quarter of the rail network, the closure of 2,000 local stations and the loss of 70,000 jobs. The rail network is now 9,789 miles long, down from 23,440 miles before the First World War.
Dr Richard Beeching described the railways of the 1960s as bloated, uneconomic and under-used, but his ability to forecast future use by both passengers and freight has proven to be woefully inept. Only seventeen years after his report came out rail passenger journeys started rising (unsteadily at first) again.
While British Railways was privatised twenty years ago, the private companies that replaced it still rely on subsidies, euphemistically known as “revenue support, when revenues are less than expected. Seven franchisees received these subsidies in 2012.
The FT reported on this October last year:
“In the year to March 31 2012, the government received £1.2bn in net premium payments from across the 17-franchise network, according to the Department for Transport. The “net premium” is the total premium payments minus subsidies paid to operators running unprofitable franchises.
If every train company had got its forecasts right, that would be the end of the story. But after paying revenue support – and receiving a share of revenues on franchises that exceeded expectations – the government earned just £695m in rail revenues last year.”
Rail minister and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, described the new rail fares as ‘not that expensive.’ indicating just how out of touch he is with public opinion.
Dare we say it? Renationalisation
Public opinion supports renationalisation. Four recent polls have shown widespread support for renationalisation of the rail network. A poll in the left-leaning Guardian showed 93% support for such a policy. More representative polls from GfK/NOP showed 70% support for renationalisation and MSN News showed 75% in favour.
If those 1.3 billion passenger journeys moved onto our struggling road network, they would quickly become gridlocked. Conversely, if more freight were moved onto rail, many slow moving, congestion-causing and road-damaging lorries would come off the roads.
Maybe it is time for a forward-thinking major political party to take a leadership position on this issue. Any issue that gains upwards of 70% public support has to be a vote winner.
Like our Facebook Page
Can You Use Your PC In an Eco-Friendly Manner?
How Pain Management Hurts the Environment, and What You Can Do to Help
4 Countries That Have Banned Single-Use Plastic
What Is Your Carbon Footprint and How Can You Reduce it?
How Business Leaders Can Positively Impact Water Scarcity
Plant-Based Protein Coffee is Eco-Friendly & Healthy
Eco-Friendly Restaurants That Are Bringing the Outside Inside
5 Environmental Benefits of Custom Manufacturing
How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Office
Benefits of Starting an Eco-Friendly eCommerce Business
Brian Sheth and Sheth Sangreal Foundation Donate $15 Million to Global Wildlife Conservation
Eco-Friendly Gardeners Can Make Compost from Organic Waste
8 Great Tips to Find an Eco-Conscious Moving Company
Can Employers Help the Planet with Work from Home Policies?
Creating a Green Basement Environment for a Healthier Home
Switching to an Electric Car to Help the Environment? Here’s How to Find the Cheapest Insurance
More People Are Practicing Eco-Conscious Lawn-Care
Choosing the Best Air Filter as Pollution Levels Worsen
9 Tips to Write Stellar Papers as an Environmental Science Major
Why You Need to Know These Hard Facts About Ethical Investing
- Energy3 months ago
How To Choose the Right Solar Inverter for Your Home?
- Energy3 months ago
How to Choose the Best Solar Panel for Your Home
- Environment10 months ago
Importance of Using a Water Purifier in an Area with High Pollution
- Environment3 months ago
Reduce Industry Footprints with Sustainable Material Swaps