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BBC piece - "Exorbitant' rail fares attacked"

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  • Christopher Miller
    From the BBC today: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4997572.stm ... Exorbitant rail fares attacked Public money totalling £87m a week is spent on the
    Message 1 of 3 , May 19 8:27 AM
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      From the BBC today:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4997572.stm


      ----------

      Exorbitant' rail fares attacked

      Public money totalling £87m a week is spent on the rail network.
      Passengers are being driven off the railways thanks to the
      "exorbitant" fares charged by train operators. The cross-party
      Commons transport committee said passengers were "held to ransom" by
      companies which tried to "see how much we can get away with". They
      criticised government complacency for failing to ensure value for
      money. The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the
      report was "over the top" and cutting fares would mean a "huge
      increase in subsidy". A total of £87m a week of public funds are
      poured into the rail network.
      Responding to the committee's report, Rail Minister Derek Twigg said
      there were more than a billion passenger journeys last year - "the
      most for more than 40 years which demonstrates that the railways are
      an attractive choice for many people". He added: "We want to price
      people on to the railways by making sure attractive prices are
      available. "There are some excellent value fares, but it is true that
      the system can be complicated for passengers and this report
      highlights important issues." Meanwhile the Conservatives said the
      government was trying to "price people off the railways" and the Lib
      Dems said the UK had the highest rail prices in Europe.

      Effective regulation

      In its report, the committee said the privatised rail industry had
      failed over a decade to "get fares and ticketing right". "Neither
      passengers nor taxpayers are getting value for their money," it
      added. "The situation is deeply unacceptable." And it said ministers
      must bring in effective regulation if they were to achieve a
      significant shift from road to rail - key to cutting greenhouse gas
      emissions. MPs were particularly critical of steep rises in the cost
      of open tickets bought on the day of travel which, it said, were now
      "absurdly high". "The 'see how much we can get away with' attitude of
      operators has put the thumbscrews on those passengers who have no
      option but to travel on peak-hour trains using fully flexible open
      fares," the report said.

      The "deeply fragmented and highly complex" array of tickets offered
      by companies were an "insult" to passengers, it added. "It is
      unacceptable that in order to purchase a rail ticket passengers are
      faced with up to a dozen different products, most of which have
      subtly different conditions and restrictions," it said. And it said
      companies appeared to exploit the Christmas holiday rush to maximise
      profits.

      Ticket 'lottery'

      Customer group Passenger Focus said that, while passenger
      satisfaction was "on the up", rail users did not think they were
      getting good value-for-money. "It can be difficult to get a good
      value ticket so some passengers feel like it's a lottery," chief
      executive Anthony Smith said. "The system is too complicated so train
      companies will have to work really hard to simplify the way they sell
      tickets." Atoc director general George Muir said: "This report calls
      for cutting rail fares but without having the courage to admit the
      huge increase in subsidy this would mean. "As for fares complexity
      and the other things the report complains about, we acknowledge that
      there are issues to address but this report is completely over the top."




      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Karen Sandness
      I am encountering British Rail prices for the first time as I plan a trip to England for late this summer. I m spending the first part with a group attending
      Message 2 of 3 , May 20 9:14 AM
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        I am encountering British Rail prices for the first time as I plan a
        trip to England for late this summer. I'm spending the first part with
        a group attending the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford and will then
        take off on my own to explore a country I haven't visited since I was
        in high school.

        Accustomed as I am to Japanese trains, I find that the British system
        covers the country less well and is remarkably expensive. I feel very
        lucky, as an overseas visitor, to be eligible for a BritRail pass, but
        it is more expensive than the JR Pass for comparable periods of time.

        Even airport transportation is pricier. The walk-up fare for the
        Heathrow Express, a 15-minute train ride into London Paddington, is
        14.50 pounds, or US$27.26 at the current rate of exchange. Buying a
        ticket in advance saves you a whole pound. By comparison, the most
        expensive way to get to central Tokyo from Narita Airport, the Narita
        Express, a good 70 minutes and 40 miles, is 3,000 yen, or ...US$27.27
        at the current rate of exchange. If I'm willing to go to a less
        convenient part of Tokyo, I can ride the Keisei Skyliner for 1,920 yen,
        or US$17.45.

        The website for the Heathrow Express brags about its quietness and
        luxury, but the two alternatives for traveling into Tokyo are both
        clean, spacious, and fast.

        Sure, I could take the Tube into London, but I'm leaving that afternoon
        from Paddington to take a train to Hereford to meet up with the rest of
        the group, and in my undoubtedly jet-lagged state, it will be all I can
        manage to figure out one train station.

        It has always amused me to hear people who never hesitate to go to
        Europe saying that Japan would be too expensive to visit.

        In transit,
        Karen Sandness
      • Todd Edelman
        ... Hi, make sure you check out www.seat61.com - T ... Todd Edelman International Coordinator On the Train Towards the Future! Green Idea Factory Laubova 5
        Message 3 of 3 , May 20 9:55 AM
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          > I am encountering British Rail prices for the first time as I plan a
          > trip to England for late this summer. I'm spending the first part with
          > a group attending the Three Choirs Festival in Hereford and will then
          > take off on my own to explore a country I haven't visited since I was
          > in high school.

          Hi, make sure you check out www.seat61.com

          - T

          ------------------------------------------------------

          Todd Edelman
          International Coordinator
          On the Train Towards the Future!

          Green Idea Factory
          Laubova 5
          CZ-13000 Praha 3

          ++420 605 915 970

          edelman@...
          http://www.worldcarfree.net/onthetrain

          Green Idea Factory,
          a member of World Carfree Network
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