Azara Blog: Rail passengers whine yet again about increased fares

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Date published: 2009/01/02

The BBC says:

New year rail fare rises which see some tickets go up by more than the rate of inflation will make passengers "shudder and shiver", a watchdog has said.

Regulated and unregulated fares in England, Scotland and Wales are to increase by averages of 6% and 7% respectively from 2 January.

But Passenger Focus said such high rises looked "very out of kilter" in the current economic climate.

Train companies have pledged the extra revenue will be reinvested.

Regulated fares - including season tickets - are generally based on a set formula which limits increases to 1% above retail price index (RPI) inflation, although there are some exceptions.

Passengers have been particularly hard hit this year because the rises are based on last July's RPI of 5%, a figure which has since dropped to 3%.

What is it about train passengers that they think the rest of the country should perpetually massively subsidise their journeys? What is is about this service that somehow it should uniquely be subsidised?

And these "high" rises are not "very out of kilter in the current economic climate". The people who do best in a recession / depression are people in work, and people who take trains are largely people in work. They are not the people who need help in the "current economic climate". It is people who have lost their jobs who need help.

And the BBC is typically disingenuous in making the RPI comparison. Sure, the RPI has dropped since July. But (assuming this continues) it will be reflected in next year's price increases, which will be far more modest. Over the long run, no matter what point in the year is chosen to use for the RPI figure, the intra-year random fluctuations average out, so there is very little point in bleating about any particular year, unless you are making a half-baked political, rather than a reality-based economic, argument.

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