22 January 2008

Unfair with fares?

Rail passengers in the Westcountry are paying the highest train fares in Europe. According to a new report, train users in the region, as well as in the rest of the country, pay up to 14 times more than their counterparts on the continent.

This means that £10 in Cornwall and Devon will only get you as far as 27 miles, compared with 58 miles in France and 383 miles (14 times more) in Latvia.

This is from This is Plymouth

As one other reader has already pointed out - the article is being a bit unfair. They are obviously using the highest fares available to make this comparison. As the reader points out so well...

Why do journalists insist on quoting the open return prices when talking about rail fares? Just because (using the same analogy) Harrods sells wine for £120 quid a bottle doesn't mean that we in the UK pay over the top prices for wine does it?

I am not a big train traveller. Before last year it had been twenty years since I last undertook a long distance train journey. In October I went to London and back and it cost just £34 for the return trip. My wife had earlier managed the same trip for even less. A day return to Exeter cost us just £7 each a few weeks ago. Considerably more than 27 miles for £10 as quoted in this article.

The trains down here do have their problems and the companies can be criticised for poor service at times and poor punctuality. First Great Western themselves recognise they are not providing a brilliant service. It has announced it will double the amount of compensation it is giving to passengers affected by delays and disruption. FGW said in a statement:

“This move recognises customers have not received the service they deserve, and means that most regular passengers will effectively pay the previous year’s prices for their 2008 season tickets on renewal.

FGW has a long way to go before it can shake off its poor image. It is making an effort and the increase in compensation will help in that direction. A lot of the factors that are leading to poor punctuality are down to Rail Track and the government has a lot to answer for in the whole provision of rail services in the region. FGW certainly have to take their share of the blame and the compensation scheme announced is part of that process. Totally biased and misleading fare comparisons with different countries does not help anyone!

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