Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/561/6736
The great rail fares rip-off
PRIVATE RAIL operating companies in the UK have announced huge fares increases, way above the rate of inflation, for 'peak' and 'off-peak' journeys. These increases are the highest since the railways were privatised 16 years ago.
Train companies are meant to offer discounted saver fares, renamed 'off-peak' fares, but they are exploiting loopholes that allow them to expand the definition of 'peak'. This means for example that East Midlands Trains is raising fares by up to 34.5% by extending its restrictions.
Virgin trains are pulling a similar scam. Under the old rules, passengers travelling from London to Glasgow with off-peak tickets could arrive just after 10.30am. Under the new restrictions, discounted fares will not be valid until after 9.05am, meaning that the earliest arrival time using a cheaper ticket will be just after 2pm. A standard class return will now cost £252, up from £102.90.
In effect, students, families and the elderly will be charged the same as business people.
The RMT rail union has slammed these increases, accusing the companies of operating a "legalised scam that has made private shareholders rich at the expense of passengers and rail workers' jobs." The RMT reckons that the big five operators are converting the fare rises into bumper profits, fuelling dividend increases of a least 10% and as high as 33%.
The rail operators, with bare-faced cheek, have blamed the fare rises on the reduction in state subsidies which they receive (£4.5 billion in 2009). The government meanwhile has simply shrugged its shoulders, aping the companies' claims that the increases are justified to increase investment.
The solution to this expensive, overcrowded, profiteering rail system is crystal clear: Renationalise the railways!
In The Socialist 7 January 2009:
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party campaigns
Celebrity Big Brother
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Environment and socialism