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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 January 2011

Rail operators profit from commuter misery

RAIL PASSENGERS face a miserable start to the New Year as a result of massive price hikes imposed by the privately run train operating companies (TOCs).

Dave Carr

The price rises average 6.2% for unregulated fares with mainline season ticket holders having to fork out an extra 13%, way above the current inflation rate.

An annual season ticket between Leicester and Coventry, for example, will now cost 2,472, while a season ticket between Peterborough and London has risen to a staggering 5,320 (ie more than half a year's minimum wage). Tube and bus passengers in London face a 6.8% increase from 1 January.

Passengers will face yet more misery in January 2012 when a higher inflation forecast coupled to a 3% fare hike will come in across the rail network.

These increases will price people off the railways and make it prohibitively expensive for many to commute to work in the cities. This will add to road congestion and increase carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

Not that road transport is much of a cheaper alternative, with fuel duty and VAT tax rises on petrol and diesel applying from the start of 2011 and another increase in fuel duty expected in April.

Chief executive of the Association of TOCs, Michael Roberts, disingenuously argued that the price increases were part of a government policy to make rail passengers pay a greater share than taxpayers - as if passengers don't pay taxes!

What Roberts is attempting to conceal, badly, is the huge 1 billion a year subsidy the privately run TOCs receive in order to maintain their profits and reward shareholders.

Since British Rail was denationalised by the Tory government under John Major in 1993 the rail passenger system has been in chaos. Fatal safety failures, massive overcrowding of trains, expensive and constantly rising fares, and billions in public subsidies while underinvesting in infrastructure, have characterised the privatised railways.

Such has been the disastrous impact of privatisation on the rail network, that in 2001 the Labour government was forced to part-renationalise the failed rail infrastructure company Railtrack by creating Network Rail. However, this measure has simply resulted in the public paying for new investment in the industry while the TOCs continue to cream the profits.

This parasitic relationship between the state and private rail companies must be ended through the wholesale renationalistion of the rail system as part of an overall national transport plan.

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In The Socialist 5 January 2011:


National Shop Stewards Network

We'll resist Cameron's 'hard times'

NSSN anti-cuts conference: Trade unionists to debate the way forward

A real strategy to fight the cuts


Socialist Party youth and students

March together, win together: students and workers join the demonstration in Manchester on 29 January

29 January demonstration in Manchester: Students and young workers unite


Socialist Party feature

2011: a year of sharpening struggle


Socialist Party news and analysis

Rail operators profit from commuter misery

Northern Ireland water crisis: Privatisation agenda wrecks service utility

NHS cutbacks - health bosses and government to blame

Tommy Sheridan trial - guilty verdict is a sham

Private ownership, public pollution


Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Fight the NHS pay freeze!

Heinz strike again

Birmingham bin workers fight back

More pay strikes at Newsquest papers

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference on 22 January 2011

Trade unions must fight for agency workers' rights


Obituaries

Tribute to John Macreadie, trade unionist and socialist fighter

Grunwick: leader of historic strike dies


Socialist Party review

Fela! the musical


 

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