We live in a Golden Age.
The Railways are fast, clean and efficient. Waiting lists have been cut in half and people no longer dread going into hospital. In schools, teachers no longer have to quell disruptive students before starting their lessons and can teach from the latest text-books using the latest teaching aids. Our foreign policy is fair, just, humane and never challenged. At least, this is the view of modern Britain when you are sitting around the Cabinet table.
If you happen not to have chaffeuers, Sir Humphreys and BUPA1 membership however, Britain isn't as bad as things could be, but they are certainly getting worse.
In this report I will be looking at the railways2.
Ever tried to go from North London3 to Gatwick Airport4? Want to know how much it costs? £20. To put that into context, it costs £5.10 to travel all the way around London on any day using a one-day London Travelcard and Gatwick is only just outside the London Travelcard
zones. How on Earth can that be justified? Once a train leaves the M25 does it cost £14.90 more to run the train? Do its parts start to wear down when it enters fresh air? Is there a special tax for daring to run
trains outside London? I believe not!
Another example is how much the 10 minute journey from North London to St. Albans costs. £4.10. North London to Welwyn Garden City. Takes 20 minutes, on a line which has had two accidents in the past three
years, costs £4.30. If one were to go from North London to Chessington, however, the journey takes one hour and a half and costs £5.10! And Alistair Darling5 has recently announced, in conjunction with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) that fares are now going to rise higher than inflation. Well done for great business sense! When a product gets worse you charge less, not more.
The reason behind this decision is reported to be that the rise in fares 'will go back into the railway network' and 'sort out the problems we inherited'6. A good example of this money 'going back into the railways' is the decision by the SRA, in February of this year, to cut 100 trains a day7 and reports that ministers want to cut subsidies to the railways by 20%.
This isn't all I have to say on the railways but, for now, it will have to do. Would it really be that bad to re-nationalise the railways so they're run for the people, not for the money?
because I've had a bad experience on them recently.3Well, North of London (Borehamwood), but it's still in the Travelcard zones4Just outside the M255Secretary of State for Transport6Alistair Darling, talking to the House of Commons on Thursday 19th June 20037A move which both business leaders and unions said was 'lunacy' and 'crazy'