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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 December, 2004, 12:00 GMT
Rail fare increases: Your reaction
First Great Western train
Rail fares in the UK are set to increase up to 7% next year.

The rise will see travellers paying an extra 4% for most season tickets and saver fares.

Advance booking and cheap day return tickets will cost between 2% and 7.2% more.

The rail industry has defended the move saying that increase is needed to help pay for investment to improve the railways.

What do you think of the proposed fare increases? Will the money raised help to improve the country's rail services? Do you think rail fares are good value for money?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Edward Hart, UK:
Is the latest increase in train fares justifiable?

Whenever I go into London with my girlfriend, we always drive as far as we can, before parking up and getting a cheaper ticket closer to the city. I have simply been priced off the trains.
Martin, Staines

I travel from Bristol to London once a week and it costs me 95 return! And I ALWAYS have to stand in the vestibule on the way back! The seats are tatty, half the time the buffet cart is closed and there's the usual delays. 95 is already too much!!!
David Jones, Bristol, UK

Why the surprise? Rail fares have been increasing at around the 8% mark for years - at least in my area (South West Trains, up to 80p/mile for local trains) We'll grumble, and then we'll pay - that's the nature of a monopoly.
Ian Baker, Reading, UK

A 19th Century service at 22nd Century prices, an utter disgrace.
Stephen, Sheffield, UK

Surprise, surprise! One thing's as sure as night follows day: Rail fares always go up. What isn't so clear is where all this revenue went over the last forty years! Share my suspicions?
Patrick V. Staton, Guildford. UK

Fares have gone up every year since I have been using the railways, always using the excuse that the extra funds are to improve the system. They are still using slam door trains on my network. Will these increases be reversed once improvements have been made? I doubt it very much.
Tim Lee, London

Fare increases are needed if the railway wants to invest and improve services. But every year, nothing seems to change. I would be willing to pay more, if services were drastically improved, but until the Government is willing to invest into the railway, then I cannot see this happening.
Steven, Nottingham, UK

British people are being taken for a ride, and it's a very expensive one
Chris, Budapest
British people are being taken for a ride, and it's a very expensive one. It costs more to take a train from London to Manchester than to fly from London to Budapest. Ironically, the London/Budapest flight is faster, safer and you get a free coffee during the flight!
Chris, Budapest

The train companies should be free to set whatever prices they wish. It is up to people to decide whether to travel on those trains or not when compared to other forms of transport. Given how hard it is to get a seat, fare rises seem understandable. There's nothing to stop other companies offering a different cheaper service if they think it would be profitable and there is market demand for it. If you don't think fares offer value for money then don't purchase them.
Nick, UK

How much more do they want. Already pay nearly 4,000 for the privilege of using the railway between Charlbury and London Paddington. In comparison, for just 2253 you can buy a annual season ticket in the Netherlands using the whole rail, bus, tram and underground network whole year around.
Kees, Chadlington, UK

We pour billions of pounds of taxpayers' money into this black hole each year. Is your service getting better? Mine is not.
Rob, UK

We are all being held to ransom
Alex Coomes, Surbiton, Surrey
We are all being held to ransom. This is a national disgrace not a national rail service!
Alex Coomes, Surbiton, Surrey

I need to travel around the country to work and to visit my family. Because my schedule is variable, I can't use advance purchase tickets, so I have to pay around 90 to take the train from Newcastle to Kent and back, or I can go by car for 60. If I want to take a friend with me who qualifies for a young person's railcard (ticket price around 60), I save 90 by going by car. If I want to break my outward journey and stop off at Leeds or Sheffield, I save even more by going by car.
Matt West, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

It's as justifiable as the bonus the directors get given. Having used SW trains every day I have now decided getting wet and cold on my bicycle is a far better way of travelling. Long live two wheels (until they tax it)
Matt, London

Will the increased fares, pay for a fact finding mission, in order that our service providers can learn and absorb the techniques involved in providing a low cost, safe, clean and timely transport infrastructure? A mission into Europe would be good, although, I suspect a trip to any other country in the world would prove fruitful.
Anthony Green, Bracknell, Berks

If we all want a good railway system then we have to pay for it
Stuart, London
If we all want a good railway system then we have to pay for it. Everybody wants a World class system but doesn't want to spend the money to provide it. We all know about the years of underinvestment in the railways but moaning about the past isn't going to solve anything. If we want a good reliable train service then we need accept that we are going to have to pay for it.
Stuart, London

Being an Irish person who goes to England at least twice a year, I am shocked at the general cost of your rail tickets. Especially considering what appears to be the total lack of general maintenance and safety. There is hardly a month that goes by that you do not hear of some terrible accident, all in the name of profit from the privatised companies who run your rail. If they want to increase the price, they should first show an increase in safety, and have actual results to back it up. Perhaps then a price hike would not be out of the question. However with their current record, they do not deserve a penny till they improve their record.
Robb, Dublin, Ireland

I pay over 1800 for my annual ticket now, and for that I can guarantee that delays will mean I miss my connecting train and am late for work at least once a week, now they want another 4% on top? There can't be many other industries that could be so singularly mediocre at what they do and still keep putting prices up.
Jason, Manchester

It's a Catch 22 situation, they want people off the roads and onto trains but can't offer a reliable, comfortable rail journey. Trains still run late and nowhere near enough carriages are available at peak passenger times, this in turn further delays trains at each stop as people have to fight to get on/off. Not rocket science really is it ?
Dave Horridge, Bolton

Out rail network is already far more expensive than the rest of Europe, figures recently showed that we are ridiculously overcharged when compared with France, Italy and others who offer more efficient, timely, cleaner services. How will more people move to public transport when already sky-high prices are raised for a service which seems to show no tangible improvement in recent years?
Greg, London, UK.

Since First took over Scotrail there have been people standing on the train every weekday morning. With road works in operation one would think it an ideal opportunity to grab new customers, but seemingly not.
Iain Grant, Stonehaven, Kincardineshire

I rely on trains for my job, my personal life and to see my family. Regularly I end up squeezed on to packed, uncomfortable, late, slow trains. Already I pay a significant chunk of my income to do it - and I hold a young person's railcard. Frequency and size of services keeps dropping - every time I have had a reserved seat recently I have given it up to someone elderly or with small children who was unable to get a reservation. Many intercity routes have had carriage numbers halved for no good reason, despite being busy already. Staff seem thoroughly demoralised.
James, Reading, UK

I live in the area served by Silverlink. We have had our service cut by 1 train an hour thanks to Virgin Trains' "improvements" to local infrastructure, and now prices are to rise. Me? I'll keep on driving to work. Quicker, cheaper, far less stressful.
Chris Emery, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

I thought the privatisation we were told was such a wonderful thing was going to get lots and lots of money from the shareholders. Oh, sorry I was wrong - it's going to GIVE lots and lots of money to the shareholders.
Malcolm Langley, Wrexham, UK

No wonder no-one wants to use public transport
Neil, Dagenham, Essex
I spent a week travelling to central London for a training course. The centre was virtually the same distance from my home as my place of work out in Essex. Travelling to work in a car takes me 20 minutes in comfort and safety. Travelling into London took nigh on 2 hours, I had to stand in a sardine can all the way, was coughed on, sneezed over and spat at numerous time whilst being surrounded by warnings about crime. No wonder no-one wants to use public transport - and have to pay more for the "privilege"!
Neil, Dagenham, Essex

We need tax breaks for companies that allow remote working. It's the only persuasive argument for employers, and the only way to take pressure off of transportation.
Colin MacDonald, Glasgow, Scotland

I recently moved from Cambridge, UK to Helsinki, Finland. Public transport is now a convenient pleasure. In the UK I felt despair, disappointment and disbelief at how the public are treated. I would not take a job in SE England if it meant travelling any distance by road, rail or bus.
Allan, Helsinki, Finland

Here's an idea: How about we pass a law that rail company bosses HAVE to travel to work every morning on the trains they "manage"? And make them wear a big badge announcing who they are. That should justify the huge salaries they rake in while everyone else suffers on their (lack of) service.
Nick Ostler, Lewes

A recent trip to London from Newcastle was going to cost me and 3 friends over 360 on the train. Is it any wonder we ended up going by car?
Jenny, Newcastle, UK

How much of the fare increase will be spent on "improving" the service, and how much will be spent on bonuses for (failing) management and increased dividends to shareholders. If all the profits made by the train operators was ploughed back into the business, there would be no need for this increase.
Al, Skipton, UK

Great! More money for a service that seems to be consistently going downhill. If we are going to have to pay more, could it at least be used efficiently so that we actually see the benefit? The rest of Europe seem to have it sorted, for less money. Where are we going wrong?
Jess Sykes, Harbourne, Birmingham

Appalling- what a Christmas present
Richard Sumner, Ipswich UK
What was it John Prescott has been talking about during these very long seven or so Labour years- an integrated transport policy? Oh no, sorry, it's something else now isn't it? How much more of this empty rhetoric must we swallow before there are some demonstrable results? Appalling- what a Christmas present.
Richard Sumner, Ipswich UK

More fare increases for what is the most heavily government subsidised, and most expensive to use private railway system in the world. Premium charges for a budget service.
Carlo, London

This fare increase is absolutely unjustifiable. Every time fares go up we are promised that we will get a better service, but we never do! Whenever I travel by train I can never be sure that I will get to my destination on time, and now I will have to pay extra for the privilege. Great.
Jonathan Lovatt, Norwich, UK

It's is absolutely ridiculous. Fares with some train operators are already incredibly expensive. I wanted to go to York for the day on GNER - but at 70 I realised that it simply wasn't worth it. I can go to Paris on Eurostar for less! This isn't public transport, it's just not affordable.
Graham, London, UK

Late, dirty, overcrowded trains - and that's when they even bother to turn up!
Alison, Leeds, UK
The rail industry is a joke. Late, dirty, overcrowded trains - and that's when they even bother to turn up! I suggest that all rail users go on strike - everyone take a day off work and stay home. Lets vote with our feet and leave every station across the country empty for a day. Then perhaps these "jokers" will see that rail passengers are not the mugs that they think we are!
Alison, Leeds, UK

Why on earth would I catch the train from Southampton to London? The car costs less in fuel and parking and is quicker. It costs 90 to train from Southampton to Waterloo at peak time, I can fly to Spain and back for less!! Until something is done about the cost, like a 30% reduction, I'll be sat comfortably in my car.
Ben Curtis, Southampton, Hampshire

I would not mind paying more if I could be assured that it was going to be invested in our rail network and not the pockets of Managers and Shareholders. Bring it all back under state control!
Shane, Dundee, Scotland

I'm afraid this is what happens when you have a privately run transport system... fares go up, service goes down, and the shareholders still get their annual payments increased.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

The new timetable means less trains, more stops and more overcrowding
Simon, Woking, UK
Unbelievable. SW Trains are introducing a new timetable on December 12th which means it is going to take me roughly another hour each day to travel to and from work. The new timetable means less trains, more stops and more overcrowding. It appears they are building in longer stop times at each station as well - presumably so that they have more chance of trains eventually getting to their destination on time. This is allied to the fact that SW Trains have no banned cycles from rush hour trains. I thought we were aiming for a "joined up transport policy" ? My views of the rail network and its operators are unprintable I'm afraid.
Simon, Woking, UK

As a former Network Rail employee I would like to know why the TOC's claim prices must go up to fund track developments like the West Coast Mainline. This was paid for by Network Rail who are funded by the government.
Dave, Wellingborough, UK

Finland has one of the best public transport systems in the world, yet one of the lowest levels of public transport subsidy. This, apparently, is because they have never allowed their infrastructure to become run-down. So simple. Why didn't we think of that?
Adrian, London

The reason I travel as little as possible by train is that the fares are a complete rip off, particularly given the service you get. I think they need to get more people onto the trains by improving service and lowering the price if they want more money. We have a right to expect a reasonably priced service. I am disgusted.
Evan, Edinburgh

Why can't commuters write off the cost of their season tickets against tax? I pay 3000 a year in order to get to work to earn the money. What makes that any different to others (non PAYE) who deduct their transport costs? If I could do this it wouldn't bother me if they raised fares by 50%!
Gary, Frant, East Sussex

Price hikes are sadly inevitable when you consider the train operators need to bring what is largely a Victorian infrastructure up to the 21st century.
Simon, London

This gives passengers no viable alternative
Pete, Colchester
My initial thoughts are unprintable. Having suffered the contempt of rail operators for many years, their only saving grace is that the road system is equally inadequate and over-priced. This gives passengers no viable alternative - captive market being wholly exploited by the rail companies, and sold down the swannee by the Government.
Pete, Colchester

Well timed release, just a couple of days after Ken Livingstone announces that the London congestion charge should increase by 60%. This money, plus the HUGE amount of tax motorists pay each year is supposed to be spent on improving public transport. Where is it all going?
Jerry, Basingstoke, UK

We the British public should go on strike. It's about time the government realised we are not going to continue to put up with late dirty trains, unstaffed stations and bonkers fares. It is already cheaper to buy/insure and run a motorbike than commuting from Twickenham, which is a sad state of affairs. Re-nationalise the trains and buses and sack all the existing management - they don't know what they are doing.
Jason, London, UK

The train I catch has recently been reduced from 12 to 8 carriages. When there were 12, I had no trouble getting a seat. With 8, people are standing throughout. If rail companies degrade the quality of their service because it is cheaper to run, they should not be permitted to raise fares.
Steve, Hampshire

Trying to run a rail company for profit has been a recipe for disaster
James Martin, Canterbury
It seems to be like flogging a dead horse when it comes to the rail services. They insist that if we give them a little more money and time they will be able to give us a rail service that works. The fact is that trying to run a rail company for profit has been a recipe for disaster. I think it's time we called for the government to take back the control of the railways and stop this nonsense.
James Martin, Canterbury

Well, I've given up trying to get a mortgage as I can't afford the cheapest properties where I live so I may as well pay extra for rail services that are regressing.
Ade, Chelmsford, UK

Travelling to work every day on a service that is usually late and with poorly-maintained rolling stock I can see the need for further investment - but if it is government policy to encourage us to travel by train why don't they put our money into the system? It appears social engineering by taxation only occurs when they hike taxes on things they don't like (cigarettes, alcohol, petrol, etc).
Megan, Crewe, UK

When is it going to stop? With the new timetable coming into place in December my journey will take 30 minutes longer and annually costs the same as a NEW small car!
Rick Cutler, Thatcham, Berkshire

Translink (who run the railways in Northern Ireland) have been investing heavily in the rail network in recent years. They've been working hard to improve services, comfort and reliability - new improved stations across the province, 23 new trains, better working practices. If any rail company can justify an increase in rail fares, Translink can.
John, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Four years ago I used to travel regularly from home to university by train. Now, my dad picks me up by car as it costs half as much (including student discount), is less likely to be delayed, I have a seat to sit on, I'm not boiled or frozen by the non functioning air conditioning and I can carry more stuff. Increases in train fairs are only going to force more people off the rails and onto the road increasing the problem of congestion and air pollution.
Karen, Cheshire

Why should I have to pay for their inadequacies?
Daniele Ieriti, Bishop's Stortford
I commute from Bishop's Stortford (north London) to Birmingham every day. As it is, commuting takes up 20% of my salary, so now this will make it much worse. If there was a good reason for the rise, it wouldn't upset me so much, but it's through their own mismanagement that this has been caused! Why should I have to pay for their inadequacies?
Daniele Ieriti, Bishop's Stortford

Once again the poor old user has to pay for incompetence and a poor service. I have a monthly wage which has to be budgeted for all the bills. Perhaps housewives should take over the running of industry as the people in charge have no idea how to manage without increases, yet once our money is gone where do we go for more?
Carole, UK

We are expected to fund the increased investment through higher prices, but did we benefit from price cuts all those years investment was minimal and the network falling into disrepair? I think not.
Anthony Gilbert, Leeds, England

My sixteen mile journey between Sheffield and Barnsley has taken an hour and a half, this morning. Do the train companies deserve more money? I think not.
Dave, Sheffield, England

Last time I went back I went by coach - the difference was overwhelming
Ruth, London
As I am studying in London, I frequently travel from London to Cardiff to see family. The trains are often late, crowded and despite always booking a ticket, I have often been without a seat for part of the journey. Last time I went back I went by coach - the difference was overwhelming. The service ran to time, was clean and I was guaranteed a seat, all for a fraction of the price of my usual rail fair. I will now be travelling by coach on future journeys - a further increase in prices will certainly not encourage me to change back to the train!! Also, the coach company managed to sort out their Christmas timetables weeks ago, so my ticket home is safely booked.
Ruth, London

I recently turned down a job offer to work in London mainly because of the overcrowding of the dirty trains from Cambridge, and also because of the 4,300 annual season ticket cost with parking. I had a feeling then that the price would go up at a similar rate to the utilities, and now drive to work in Hatfield for half the cost.
Alex, UK

I often travel by train from Chester to London. I have to say that in all the years that I have travelled this route it has only let me down twice. Also following the West Coast route upgrades the service has improved greatly. The only downside is that the fares have gotten as expensive as flying. It is about time the Government stopped subsidising the road system, and started diverting the money to where it could do the country more good.
Alan, Wrexham, Wales

I wouldn't expect my employer to give me an increase in my salary to pay for improvements to my house so why should the rail commuter who already faces enough hardships on overcrowded, late and often filthy trains be expected to pay for the rail companies' inabilities to maintain their asset. It's about time the shareholders and fat-cats realise who is paying for their ludicrous bonuses each year. Time for a revolution!
Stephen, Reading

The railways are vital to the business health of the UK, particularly in conurbations. They should be highly subsidised as they are here in Glasgow. The Government should not increase tax more but divert money from things like the arts and its massive nanny state advertising budget.
Mark, Glasgow, UK

I can spend nearly 30 to visit my parents in London by train. Walk for thirty minutes this end, wait for a train, spend three hours having to sit in dirty overcrowded trains, change twice, finally get there and have to walk for thirty minutes that end hauling my luggage all the way... Or I could take my car, pay 15 fuel, and go from my door to theirs... Hmmm.. tough choice.
John, Southampton, UK

Yet again we the passengers are hit with increased fares and the excuse of 'We need the investment so we can improve'. Are those guys for real, every investment seems to make the service even worse than it was previously. Soon we'll be going back to horse and cart. It'll be cheaper, quicker and save a load of money.
John Anderson, Aberdeen

Great! More money in fares and less trains. South West exciting new timetable will mean I get to spend an extra hour a day waiting for my next train. I can hardly wait.
Karen, Surrey, UK

Why not renationalise the network and be done with these grasping profiteers
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Most train operators are dire, and by no stretch of the imagination do they deserve an increase. Despite in many cases receiving heavy public subsidies, British rail fares remain among the highest in the world. Since the whole network is essentially paid for with public money, why not renationalise the network and be done with these grasping profiteers.
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

We won't use our local service anymore because of unreliable service. More to the point if the above average increases in every service we get now were included in inflation figures then we would all see the true cost of living in Britain today!
Mark, Worcester

It seems many European countries such as Italy and Spain get EU subsidies for their excellent networks. We have to make a net contribution despite our rundown infrastructure.
Gerry, UK

The price of tickets keeps on rising and the standard of service keeps on falling, but so long as the shareholders are happy and the managers get their bonuses why care about the passengers?
Trevor, London UK

So let's get this straight. Since privatisation, companies involved have made profit and avoided investment, with little penalty. Now those costs are being paid by the public through increased fares? Disgusting. And the Government insist they are trying to encourage us out of our cars! How, exactly.
Andy Preston, Ilford, UK

Two questions need answering here. Firstly, why does all the work on the railways cost so much, and secondly, are the train companies being unwilling to pay their part and just passing it on to passengers? The cheapest Manchester to Penrith return has gone up from 10 to 14 in the last few years - a 40% increase, and in any case those cheap tickets are now like gold dust. There is a black hole somewhere in rail financing.
Simon, Manchester, UK

I use c2c and travel from Pitsea to Fenchurch Street. I rarely get a seat each morning since the trains were shortened in the summer and now I will have to pay more for the privilege!!! You can't print what I feel.
Janet Bangs, Basildon, Essex

Let me get this straight - they need the money to pay for improvements. More commonly called maintenance in my book. They knew they would have to replace trains/tracks when they took on the contracts. Perhaps they should have budgeted better.
Catherine, Ashford, UK

Will we get a 4% increase in the quality of service?
Wendy, UK

Extra funding has to come from from the public
Bumble, Dartford, UK
As with all modes of transport, investment is the key. And with the railways they are playing catch up after years of neglect. Extra funding has to come from from the public.
Bumble, Dartford, UK

This is no way to get more people onto public transport. However, as long as the government is willing to subsidise the roads many times more than the railways yet expect the trains to be run by private companies, this is inevitable. Railways need far more public money and the cost of road travel needs to be increased to somewhere near its actual level to encourage more people to choose sustainable transport.
Dominic Tristram, Bath, UK

Looks like FWG stopped selling advance returns Plymouth-Paddington on its early morning services and instead of a 61 pound return I now have to fork out 160 for an open return . Needless to say Air SouthWest will have a new customer.
Matt, Plymouth

Well, it's a good way to get more people onto the already overcrowded roads.
Maurice, Birmingham, UK

I would be happy to pay more for rail tickets if the trains were on time, reliable, comfortable and clean. However, they are not and I do not think rail companies should be increasing fares if they can't guarantee a good service. I get the train to work two days a week and can't remember the last time my train was on time!
Beth, UK

On Saturday I will be buying a car
Roger, Whitwick, England
No Christmas timetable so we cannot book the cheaper tickets and now this price hike. Usually when a product or service is this bad, the company reduces the cost to the end user to keep the custom and make the poor product or service more palatable. It is an outrage that this Government has promised so much and delivered so little on public transport. For me, this is the final straw. On Saturday I will be buying a car - I don't see what choice I now have.
Roger, Whitwick, England

I travel most days from Ewell West to Waterloo. During the peak times I have a train about every 10 minutes, they normally arrive within 5 minutes of the booked time and I normally get a seat. I think it's a pretty good service and well worth the extra 3.13 a month this increase will bring.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

Let me see... Rail fares going up. Tube fares going up, congestion charge going up but services are not getting better. Time to move to another country as it is not worth working anymore
Theo, Uxbridge, UK

Too expensive already, still overcrowded with many delays, not enough services. How is this supposed to encourage people to take public transport rather than cars? I agree with Theo, Uxbridge.
Geoff Williams, Sutton Benger, Wilts

So the most expensive, slowest and least reliable form of transportation is going to increase its prices. As a victim of the railways for nearly 30 years standing, I am too numb to be surprised but can just about feel a twinge of disappointment.
Mark, Colchester

I think they need the extra funding to help coordinate the delayed trains across the country.
David Berry, UK




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