Passenger Voice September 2015: Anthony Smith’s editorial
28 August 2015
Rail fares have dominated this month
Firstly we had the announcement of the figures that set next year’s regulated fare increases.
While no-one is pleased to see fares go up again – especially while wages mostly stay the same – passengers were relieved to see that fares are being capped at inflation. There is also no flexibility for individual fares to go up by more than this. Both of these are things we have pushed for year on year.
Meanwhile, over on the West Coast line, Virgin has come under fire for removing a generous railcard offer. Previously passengers with railcards could buy off-peak, railcard discounted tickets for use on peak-time trains.
There were some big savings to be made – for example, an Anytime return between London and Manchester currently costs £329 but the journey is available to railcard holders at £53.85.
To its credit Virgin was the only company to offer this special deal which was in acknowledgement of the high cost of peak fares. However the situation has not changed – long-distance peak fares are still exorbitant, so passengers who had come to depend on the deal will be disappointed at this move.
We wanted to see other train companies offering this discount, rather than Virgin Trains simply ‘levelling down’ to what other train companies do.
Currently almost six in ten passengers on this route are happy with the value for money of their ticket – with more than three quarters of railcard holders satisfied. We can expect to see a drop in passenger satisfaction.
Passengers tell us that getting value for money is one of their top priorities. While fares are going up, for many people punctuality is going down. The poor performance in the south east in particular highlights how Network Rail and operators need to deliver a more consistent day-to-day service which passengers can rely on.