Recently, the next round of rail fare rises was announced-a surprisingly low 1.1% increase given that many fare rises have been considerably above inflation and thus above pay rises. However, for regular commuters like myself, this small fare rise will have a real impact, particularly when the quality of our privatised railway network has been declining in spite of often above inflation rail fare rises over the years.
Another major problem is that these fare rises are occurring everywhere in Britain despite the gulf of public transport investment between Greater London and elsewhere, particularly in the north of England where many railway lines that were closed in the past (and not just in the infamous Beeching Axe) have not been replaced or are only covered by heritage railways which do not operate year-round and do not cover all the line and stations they were designed to replace. The fare rises generally do not go towards railway investment but in practice to the pockets of shareholders and private owners, which ironically have often been publicly-owned railways in another nation (e.g. in the case of SNCF, the French state railway network).
So what, in short, needs to happen with Britain's railways in the near future to benefit passengers, staff, and transport?
1. Bring the railways back into public hands, and with participatory democracy in decisions made about our rail network in order to attempt to prevent re-privatisation. After all, we travel on them, we pay for tickets, and we endure the delays when things go wrong, so we, the people, need a voice in how they are run.
2. Open new railway lines (to replace ones closed in the past) where there is sufficient local demand, to reduce reliance on car use and to make sure the needs of smaller communities are met.
3. The rail network on the northern Scottish mainland needs to be electrified, at least to some extent-England and Wales have lots of electrified railway lines but northern Scotland has none. Electrified railway lines are more efficient, have lower running costs, are more reliable, and are better environmentally.
Keep up the good work on campaigning to bring our railways back into public hands for the public good.