IN THE press is the news that the Government are putting together plans to overhaul rail transport across the North of England, laying out a Northern Transport Strategy report, which contains a long-term plan to speed up train times between major cities.
Proposed new routes for the strategy include faster travel times between cities such as Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool, and the costs could range from £1bn to £19bn.
Whilst it’s all well and good that the Government want to improve our transport links, there’s not really any point in doing it if no-one can afford to use it. The emphasis seems to be on improving on what works already, and ignoring places that could really use some money being poured into their infrastructure. Do we really need between £8.5bn and £14bn to be spent on reducing a train journey between Liverpool and Manchester by 12 minutes? That seems like an extortionate amount of money to do something that is, pretty much, pointless.
The cost of rail travel in this country is unbelievably high, and it just keeps on rising. I’ve recently come of an age where it is no longer an option for me to have a young person’s rail card (devastated), and now I just drive everywhere because it’s cheaper and, most of the time, quicker than getting the train.
So what about the people who can’t drive? Or those who can’t drive and can’t afford to get the train? Where does that leave them? Of course there are other options, like buses and, more recently, trams, but these are only available regularly in large towns and cities…where it’s more expensive to live.
Where is it going to end? Surely there’s going to have to be some sort of cap on the cost of public transport at some point?
Not only is the cost of public transport ridiculous, but unless you’re travelling into London, or up and down either coast, it’s an absolute nightmare to get anywhere. To get from Cheltenham to Oxford, a journey that is less than an hour by car, takes around two hours and 15 minutes by train, with two stops. Luckily there are decent bus options that can be taken instead, but you get the point.
And once you’ve considered cost and availability, there’s the fact that if you’re travelling on First Great Western, your train is probably going to be delayed, which you obviously won’t be compensated for. If you’re really lucky, you might even get a rail replacement bus service, which will mean your journey’s going to take three times as long and you could’ve saved some cash by choosing to go on a bus in the first place.
For people like me who live in rural areas of the UK, public transport is just totally pointless. My nearest train station is an hour away, so when you factor that into the equation on top of how much the ticket is going to cost, it’s almost always cheaper to drive to wherever I need to go. The train times are awful as well, especially at the weekend when, often, the last return train can be as early as 6pm.
If the Government want people to use public transport, and they want to fire money into improving the rail network, they need to find a way of making it more affordable to the people who are actually going to use it. I can’t even handle how astronomical the costs must be for those who commute via train every day, particularly when companies inflate their prices during rush hour, and they don’t let you use a rail card (if you’re lucky enough to have one) during this time either.
Sort it out please, Government, or we’re just going to end up doing more damage to the planet by taking our cars everywhere and that will be ON YOU.
PR exec who likes finding funnies and cool stuff online. Print journalism graduate.