Tom Haines-Doran
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Why are fares so high?
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The chapter begins by showing that fares have increased massively since privatisation, but the extent of that increase has been partially obscured by the government’s decision to use the largely defunct RPI measure of inflation for the purposes of fare regulation. According to standard measures of inflation, rail fares have risen even more steeply than is officially admitted. This is as a result of deliberate government policy, which has pushed the costs of privatisation onto passengers The rail industry deliberately hides ways to get cheaper flexible tickets from view. Instead of promoting these options, train operating companies have invested in beefing up security to prevent ‘fare evasion’. This has caught many passengers who have made innocent mistakes with ticket purchasing in a trap, which demands that they pay hefty fines to avoid criminal prosecution. Given these problems, the rail industry is looking at reform to simplify the ticketing system. This seems welcome until one considers the small print, the effect of which will mean even higher fares for passengers on the lowest incomes. Finally, the privatisation of rolling stock has significantly increased the costs of providing rail services, adding yet more incentive for ticket price rises. Despite this, successive governments have eschewed the most financially sensible policy – of public, not-for-profit, rolling stock provision.

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How to fix Britain’s broken railways


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