Fare rise repeat

CAN it really be that the 6 per cent fares rise recently announced by the rail companies (and here I quote a First ScotRail spokesman) “enables us to continue to invest in service improvements while ensuring that rail travel remains value for money”?

Exactly what does the statement mean? And why does it echo of the same quote on fares rises last year, and rises the year before, and again the year before that? Without recourse to my crystal ball, I suggest that exactly the same feeble quote will be dusted down for use in the 2013 fares rises, and again for 2014.

Meanwhile, we in Scotland suffer the operation of suburban trains on long-distance services, with passengers crammed into trains never designed for the job, with little space for luggage or bikes or toilets. Worse, there is little hope of betterment.

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In terms of financial outpouring, Scotland’s rail system will cost us £800 million annually by 2013-14 (Source: Scottish Government spokesman). This cost is over and above what we travellers shell out in eye-wateringly expensive fares.

Nor do we have a rationalised fares policy in Scotland, in spite of First ScotRail having held the franchise for six years. Why it is frequently more expensive to travel 90 miles, Aberdeen to Perth, than the 100 miles Aberdeen-Inverness (though be sure that some smart-alec from the rail industry will try to point out that by catching a hideously early train on some odd day of the week, the reverse might be true)? Equally, why is it usually less expensive to buy individual tickets for three segments of the Aberdeen-Glasgow journey than to purchase one ticket?

Gordon Casely

Hill Street