Train prices go up nearly four times
British people hold a certain romance for trains. Its a great reminder of our glorious industrial past when Britain because accessible for all. From the railways, commerce became nationwide and the football league flourished. It really was a great leveller, ensuring that plebs the country over could holiday in Skegness and move freely to other cities if they lived somewhere shit like St Helens.
Then, the way the trains worked got meddled with and everyone unanimously decided that it would be far easier to drive places because the trains are always late, cramped, stink and cost too much money. And it seems to be getting worse. That's because some of the UK's biggest train operators have moved the goalposts so they can charge us more money to travel.
By extending peak-time hours, some train-fares will have nearly quadrupled since this time last year. Normally, if a train company wants to up the price of a ticket, they have to get permission from the train regulator - however, the way around that it seems is to simple change what time you consider to be 'peak'.
So, for example, if you catch the 0950 Virgin Trains service from Birmingham to London, it will no longer be off-peak. The BBC interviewed one bloke called Antony Ray, who caught the service and found that this fare had gone from £45 to £158 for a return journey.
Last year, booking a ticket for the 0915 from London Euston to Manchester, returning at 0855 the next day, would have cost £66. Now it'll set you back £262. Anthony Smith, of Passenger Focus, says: "Tinkering with ticket restrictions causes confusion. And if your journey has gone up by four times, you're going to feel you've been done."
Virgin and South West Trains are at pains to point out that the number of trains affected by these rises are relatively small, with Virgin saying that only 3.4% of their services have been redesignated and South West Trains, 8%. However, these peak time trains are surely the most populated, leaving anyone with a meeting in London now faced with having to cut short their day to organise meetings for after midday.
What is irritating is that the train regulator only has a say in the price of off-peak travel. The extending of peak hours gives train companies much more flexibility when it comes to increasing prices whenever they feel like it.