/ Trains again

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krikoman - on 11 Feb 2019

I know we've done British trains before, but just been to France

How came they can do what we can't?

Cheap on time trains that aren't packed to the rafters?

From where I live a journey of 100 km is about £30, in France €10 or €12 if you want any train/time availability.

Is this why we're so afraid of nationalisation?

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Doug on 10:04 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

I suffer French (Parisian) suburban trains most days, frequent delays & cancellations, overcrowded & contradictory information, with the mobile phone app rarely agreeing with the website & neither with reality. 

But the TGVs are another world

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Lusk - on 10:44 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

> Is this why we're so afraid of nationalisation?

We're not!

Not sure about shareholders, though.

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summo on 11:05 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

> , in France €10 or €12 if you want any train/time availability.

Sounds around the same price as sweden. Although they aren't actually really cheaper than the UK. Trains in Europe don't cost less to buy, tracks aren't cheaper to maintain, electricity doesn't cost less, staff don't work for buttons... The public are paying for it one way or another. In sweden partly through taxation, but also less and less staffed stations, pay to pee, less free parking..  plus money from taxation. 

Plus on some lines there are private and state run trains, not quite competing, but say operating on alternate hours and slightly different stops.. the state trains (x2000) are delayed far more often. Their stock is older and under invested in. The private company can't take a risk and must invest to keep customers and avoid delays which cause financial penalties. 

So it's not a question of one being better than the other, but how you wish to pay. With state run trains you'll be paying for them regardless of how much you use them, which has its pros and cons. 

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blurty - on 11:14 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_subsidies#Europe

What really surprised me is how low the subsidy appears to be in the Netherlands (I travel around NL by train quite a lot - really excellent services for both intercity & local)

Post edited at 11:14
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willworkforfoodjnr - on 11:35 Mon
In reply to summo:

Pay to pee is a thing in Manchester, where it costs £20 a day to get 30 miles to work, having to pay 30p for a piss is the icing on the s$%tcake

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capoap - on 11:36 Mon
In reply to blurty:

You want to try Spanish trains, its another world from ours.

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Ramblin dave - on 11:40 Mon
In reply to blurty:

> What really surprised me is how low the subsidy appears to be in the Netherlands (I travel around NL by train quite a lot - really excellent services for both intercity & local)

It's still about twice the UK subsidy per passenger-mile. Although yes, Dutch trains do seem very good.

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summo on 11:41 Mon
In reply to blurty:

> What really surprised me is how low the subsidy appears to be in the Netherlands (I travel around NL by train quite a lot - really excellent services for both intercity & local)

It's low but so are billions of km commuted. You need to multiply up to make the distance match and many of those smaller populations are subsidising on a similar level to the likes of France and Germany.  Switzerland appears to be an exception though. 

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krikoman - on 12:13 Mon
In reply to Doug:

> I suffer French (Parisian) suburban trains most days,....

I can imagine Paris trains might well be a different plate of eels, we were in Toulouse.

Train on time every journey, places to sit and cheap.

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krikoman - on 12:22 Mon
In reply to summo:

> So it's not a question of one being better than the other, but how you wish to pay. With state run trains you'll be paying for them regardless of how much you use them, which has its pros and cons. 

That might be true, but we're talking about £150 a year ( 8 return journeys) for every person in the UK to match the French level of subsidies.

That gives you a seat, a train on time, travel costs 1/3 of our charges, and guards on the train!

This doesn't only benefit the users of the train though, does it? It removes cars from the road, it helps with reducing pollution and provided work for railway staff, less wear and tear on our roads might make the repair of potholes a reality.

Currently we're paying private companies out of the public purse anyhow, and for such a shit service, it's a joke. They are on the whole still paying dividends and high directors pay and bonuses, so we're not making massive savings by being privatised.

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Bob Kemp - on 12:26 Mon
In reply to summo:

> So it's not a question of one being better than the other, but how you wish to pay. With state run trains you'll be paying for them regardless of how much you use them, which has its pros and cons. 

True, but it's worth remembering that it isn't just the train traveller who benefits from train use when we weigh these things up - there are benefits in terms of global warming, pollution and reduced road congestion to be considered. 

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Ramblin dave - on 12:44 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

> I can imagine Paris trains might well be a different plate of eels, we were in Toulouse.

> Train on time every journey, places to sit and cheap.

Interesting - I just picked a random comparison, and Paris-Nantes return during off-peak hours cost pretty much the same as London-Manchester, which is a fairly similar distance. Can't say anything for the punctuality or free seats, mind.

This is interesting, too:
https://www.seat61.com/uk-europe-train-fares-comparison.html

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krikoman - on 14:57 Mon
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Interesting - I just picked a random comparison, and Paris-Nantes return during off-peak hours cost pretty much the same as London-Manchester, which is a fairly similar distance. Can't say anything for the punctuality or free seats, mind.


Maybe we just got really really lucky then

Post edited at 15:01
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jimtitt - on 17:52 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

> Is this why we're so afraid of nationalisation?

You mean like SNCF? Debt €46.6bn, subsidy €14bn/yr, losses €3bn/yr. Looks like they´ve got it worked out under state control (when they aren´t on strike).

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Trangia on 19:34 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

Also a lot of the French trains are double decker, nearly twice as many people per train. We can't do it without huge engineering works to our Victorian infrastructure - tunnels, bridges etc

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FactorXXX - on 19:43 Mon
In reply to Trangia:

> Also a lot of the French trains are double decker, nearly twice as many people per train. We can't do it without huge engineering works to our Victorian infrastructure - tunnels, bridges etc

Didn't stop them from making 2000 trains which were too wide for some of their platforms and another type that are too big for tunnels in Italy.

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Trangia on 20:01 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

> Didn't stop them from making 2000 trains which were too wide for some of their platforms and another type that are too big for tunnels in Italy.

It's staggering in this day and age that such expensive cock ups still happen.

South Africa has what is probably the most advanced Army in Africa which time of war or emergency is planned to be moved at great speed across the country including main battle tanks which are transported on specially constructed low loaders, until it was discovered, during a large exercise, that a significant number of bridges over the motorways are too low for them to pass under. So at each bridge the low loaders had to stop. The tanks unloaded and then driven under their own power to then be reloaded. So much for rapid response.

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FactorXXX - on 20:25 Mon
In reply to Trangia:

> South Africa has what is probably the most advanced Army in Africa which time of war or emergency is planned to be moved at great speed across the country including main battle tanks which are transported on specially constructed low loaders, until it was discovered, during a large exercise, that a significant number of bridges over the motorways are too low for them to pass under. So at each bridge the low loaders had to stop. The tanks unloaded and then driven under their own power to then be reloaded. So much for rapid response.

Hurry up and wait...

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FactorXXX - on 21:29 Mon
In reply to krikoman:

To summarise what we've learnt from this thread:

UK Train Fares are as cheap, if not cheaper than their European counterparts with the exception of Peak Travelling.
The French State Owned/Run Service is massively in debt and running at a loss.
The French State Owned/Run Service has made monumental cock ups with regards to what Trains it runs.

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Mr Lopez - on 21:54 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

> To summarise what we've learnt from this thread:

> UK Train Fares are as cheap, if not cheaper than their European counterparts with the exception of Peak Travelling.

 And to put that into perspective, peak travel is peak travel for a reason, that is, the grand majority of the users travel during that time, not by choice, but because they have to in order to go to work.

 So to summarise (again), train fares for the overwhelming majority of users who have no alternative but to pay them are exorbitantingly more expensive in the UK than they are anywhere else.

 If you don't work and only use the trains for specific occasions with days or weeks notice and don't mind paying for a ticket which you will lose if your plans change, then you may pay the same or a bit less than in those other countries.

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FactorXXX - on 22:06 Mon
In reply to Mr Lopez:

>  And to put that into perspective, peak travel is peak travel for a reason, that is, the grand majority of the users travel during that time, not by choice, but because they have to in order to go to work.
>  So to summarise (again), train fares for the overwhelming majority of users who have no alternative but to pay them are exorbitantingly more expensive in the UK than they are anywhere else.
>  If you don't work and only use the trains for specific occasions with days or weeks notice and don't mind paying for a ticket which you will lose if your plans change, then you may pay the same or a bit less than in those other countries.

According to the data in the Link above, only 10-15% of people travel Inter-City at Peak Times.

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Mr Lopez - on 22:21 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

I'll take the "I gather only 10-15% of travellers on a typical inter-city route buy these business-priced Anytime fares, so this is just 10-15% of the story." as a wild guess rather than fact...

Looking at this http://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/report/html/fa63ce11-efe6-4605-8ab6-682df00207ce peak journeys and season ticket journeys (which is fair to assume is people commuting peak time as otherwise individual journeys would be cheaper)account for 2/3rds of rail travel

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FactorXXX - on 22:32 Mon
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> Looking at this http://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/report/html/fa63ce11-efe6-4605-8ab6-682df00207ce peak journeys and season ticket journeys (which is fair to assume is people commuting peak time as otherwise individual journeys would be cheaper)account for 2/3rds of rail travel

How much of that is Inter-City?

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Mr Lopez - on 22:43 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

Define city

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FactorXXX - on 22:59 Mon
In reply to Mr Lopez:

> Define city

I would say Inter-City would be longish distance travel like Bristol to London, etc.

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planetmarshall on 23:09 Mon
In reply to blurty:

> What really surprised me is how low the subsidy appears to be in the Netherlands (I travel around NL by train quite a lot - really excellent services for both intercity & local)

Though God help you if you're a tourist without a payment card and you want to get off at an intermediate unmanned station.

Funny thing about train services is that the grass is always greener. I bet somewhere there's a Japanese climbing forum with an entire thread complaining about the cost of the Shinkansen.

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krikoman - on 23:46 Mon
In reply to Trangia:

> Also a lot of the French trains are double decker, nearly twice as many people per train. We can't do it without huge engineering works to our Victorian infrastructure - tunnels, bridges etc


The Swiss managed it and they probably have more bridges and tunnels than we do, they also did it to budget and on time.

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krikoman - on 23:51 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

> To summarise what we've learnt from this thread:

> UK Train Fares are as cheap, if not cheaper than their European counterparts with the exception of Peak Travelling.

Not sure that's correct, at least my own survey disproves that statement. Of course you could just believe one web link, and presume there's no other data.

> The French State Owned/Run Service is massively in debt and running at a loss.

Quite possibly, maybe that's the price you pay for a good service and a decent journey. Maybe it's a price worth paying to relieve someone the road loading.

> The French State Owned/Run Service has made monumental cock ups with regards to what Trains it runs.

Not sure about that either, and if we're looking at monumental cock ups, HS2 might be top of the monuments.

Let's not forget that France isn't the UK either, they have an area roughly three times that of the UK, so  comparing their losses with what ours might be, may not be justified.

Post edited at 23:52
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angry pirate - on 06:46 Tue
In reply to krikoman:

I commute about 15 miles each way daily for about a fiver (with a disabled Railcard - it's great having hearing aids sometimes).

The train is rarely late and if so by a couple of minutes, and is a single carriage which is always nearly full but I can always grab a seat. No real complaints from me tbh.

I can do the same journey cheaper and faster by car and this is increasinly noticeable over longer journeys but it is somewhat offset by the fact that it's better for the environment and I can grab a couple of pints on the way home on a Friday knowing that someone else is driving!

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brianjcooper on 15:17 Tue
In reply to krikoman:

The choice seems to be:

Spend all of the currently estimated budget on one Birmingham to London railway to arrive 10-15 minutes quicker.

or

Spend the same budget on a countrywide expansion and upgrade program for all.  

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Timmd on 00:19 Wed
In reply to summo:

> So it's not a question of one being better than the other, but how you wish to pay. With state run trains you'll be paying for them regardless of how much you use them, which has its pros and cons. 

'Ideally', I think one would have a situation where the trains are paid for through taxation, with fares being low enough that social mobility stems from people's ability on lower incomes to be able to afford to travel to work.

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Timmd on 00:21 Wed
In reply to willworkforfoodjnr:

> Pay to pee is a thing in Manchester, where it costs £20 a day to get 30 miles to work, having to pay 30p for a piss is the icing on the s$%tcake

If you pull the turnstiles half a turn towards you, you can sashay sideways through without paying. 

According to a friend 'ahem'.  

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summo on 11:46 Wed
In reply to krikoman and Bob Kemp.

Totally agree, less traffic, pollution etc.. are all great side benefits of increased train use. 

But it won't happen from just going state run. The investment required after decades of underfunding would be immense. Not a reason to not invest, but you have to be realistic about costs, a national programme would eclipse even hs2(although more beneficial in the long run). 

The UK just doesn't have stations in the right places anymore. It needs bigger, better, newer trains...etc. Plus you need to be able to safely commute to and from the station without your car, cycle or walk, something else the UK is lacking in. Then the biggest hurdle; culture.. the UK is wedded to their car. It won't suddenly be like the rest of Europe just because there are more trains. 

Just like when they proposed changing or rather extending the drinking hours, people would binge drink less and everyone would become continental in their habits. 

All this could happen privately too. If the government of the day put it in their contract for tender bids. Realistically, to catch up Europe and get more people and freight off the roads, more tracks need building, which is always contentious. 

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summo on 11:51 Wed
In reply to Timmd:

> 'Ideally', I think one would have a situation where the trains are paid for through taxation, with fares being low enough that social mobility stems from people's ability on lower incomes to be able to afford to travel to work.

Which would mean you take your free train, but pay way more in tax.. hardly fair on those who cycle or walk to work? How do you know the passengers are working, not holidaying?

In sweden, if you have a long commute then part of the fuel or train costs are tax deductible. Regardless of your employment status. 

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Timmd on 11:53 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Which would mean you take your free train, but pay way more in tax.. hardly fair on those who cycle or walk to work? How do you know the passengers are working, not holidaying?

If I live a life which means I generally stay out of hospital, I won't look back and begrudge any taxes which have gone towards running them. Society is a collective pot, and if an individual's potential is more deeply met towards what they can add to society as a result of being able to travel for work more easily, it's arguably a worthwhile investment too. 

> In sweden, if you have a long commute then part of the fuel or train costs are tax deductible. Regardless of your employment status. 

I guess that goes towards addressing the issue you raise. 

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timjones - on 11:59 Wed
In reply to krikoman:

> I know we've done British trains before, but just been to France

> How came they can do what we can't?

> Cheap on time trains that aren't packed to the rafters?

> From where I live a journey of 100 km is about £30, in France €10 or €12 if you want any train/time availability.

> Is this why we're so afraid of nationalisation?

We're not keen on nationalisation because we can remember the ancient, grubby old carriages that we had to put up with before privatisation.

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wintertree - on 12:00 Wed
In reply to Timmd:

> 'Ideally', I think one would have a situation where the trains are paid for through taxation, with fares being low enough that social mobility stems from people's ability on lower incomes to be able to afford to travel to work.

Some people make sacrifices to their quality of life in order to live closer to work for environmental reasons.  Why should they subsidise people who choose a longer commute?

There is a more basic problem here, which is that “where people in low paid jobs can afford to live” and “where low paid jobs are” do not match very well.  This should be addressed through housing not through transport.  Otherwise the tax payer isn’t just subsiding transport - they’re propping up an unsustainable, unfair and exploitative housing market that is regulated and controlled for the benefit of the better off.  

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summo on 12:00 Wed
In reply to Timmd:

> If I live a life which means I generally stay out of hospital, I won't look back and begrudge any taxes which have gone towards running them. Society is a collective pot, and if an individual's potential is more deeply met towards what they can add to society as a result of being able to travel for work more easily, it's arguably a worthwhile investment too. 

Of course..  But I wouldn't put someones right to first class healthcare and access to cheap trains on an equal footing. 

Nothing wrong with subsidising critical routes, or offering tax incentives to passengers working, or companies sending freight. It's a question of finding the right balance. 

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Timmd on 12:02 Wed
In reply to summo:

> Of course..  But I wouldn't put someones right to first class healthcare and access to cheap trains on an equal footing. 

Neither would I, it just came to mind as something which everybody uses at some point in their lives. 

> Nothing wrong with subsidising critical routes, or offering tax incentives to passengers working, or companies sending freight. It's a question of finding the right balance. 

Yes of course. 

Post edited at 12:03
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Rigid Raider - on 12:13 Wed
In reply to krikoman:

Many of the communities that were cut off by Beeching's cuts now have sufficient commuters to make the old railway viable if it was reinstated. For example the old railway from Bury up the Rossendale Valley and over to Accrington could be reopened if Pete Waterman and his buddies could be persuaded to allow their heritage line, the ELR, that runs from Bury to Rawtenstall, to be a commuter line again. This would offer a rail service to the thousands of commuters who queue on the dreadful M66 every morning and evening. One single train would take hundreds of those cars off the roads.

In the north-west two small but costly improvements, the Ordsall Curve and the Todmorden Curve, both joining formerly competing railways, have made a huge difference to local rail users. Would that other small improvements like this could be made instead of wasting billions on HS2, which we don't need as regular mainline rail services to that London are already good enough.

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Doug on 12:19 Wed
In reply to summo:

> In sweden, if you have a long commute then part of the fuel or train costs are tax deductible. Regardless of your employment status. 

In Paris, employers pay half the cost of a railpass - which, non subsidised is unlimited travel on suburban trains, métro & buses in the greater Paris area (similar to Greater London ) for, from memory, 75 euros per month

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Timmd on 12:20 Wed
In reply to wintertree:

> Some people make sacrifices to their quality of life in order to live closer to work for environmental reasons.  Why should they subsidise people who choose a longer commute?

It's an emotive argument, and I'm a greenie who doesn't fly and reduces reuses and recycles, but not everybody with a longer commute 'chooses' to have one - it can be down to what skills one has and how ably one can move. What about people who need to travel to look after elderly parents? That's an emotive argument 'for' cheaper train transport. 

When we have some of the most expensive train travel at the point of use, it can only be to the detriment of social mobility, which when it reduces people's ability to meet their potential would seem to be to the detriment of society (I think).

Edit: It may draw people away from driving and flying, too, which would be a plus for the environment. 

> There is a more basic problem here, which is that “where people in low paid jobs can afford to live” and “where low paid jobs are” do not match very well.  This should be addressed through housing not through transport.  Otherwise the tax payer isn’t just subsiding transport - they’re propping up an unsustainable, unfair and exploitative housing market that is regulated and controlled for the benefit of the better off.  

I wouldn't say that the inequities of the housing market are an argument 'against' tax payers paying towards making train travel more affordable so that the poor(est) are more able to travel for work. More ease of travel could lead to them becoming more skilled, and then creating employment in the areas they happen to grow up in or live already, and improving the quality of life of other people living there. The singer Will.I.Am (sp) pretty much did that by creating a factory (or some such) in the ghetto he grew up in, with the money he's made through music.  

Post edited at 12:30
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krikoman - on 12:50 Wed
In reply to timjones:

> We're not keen on nationalisation because we can remember the ancient, grubby old carriages that we had to put up with before privatisation.


That might well be true, but times have changed since the 1960s. What I'm saying is if the French can do it why can't we? Are the French better than us? We seem to be one of the few countries that thinks only the privatised option is workable, and yet when you look at prices and levels of service, it's plainly not working.

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krikoman - on 12:52 Wed
In reply to Rigid Raider:

agreed

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wintertree - on 13:14 Wed
In reply to Timmd:

>  but not everybody with a longer commute 'chooses' to have one - it can be down to what skills one has and how ably one can move.

You miss my point.  It was that people on low wages shouldn’t have to have a longer commute. People on higher wages shouldn’t be subsidised if they “have” to have a long commute.

> What about people who need to travel to look after elderly parents? That's an emotive argument 'for' cheaper train transport. 

Well, only if both they and their parents are served by a train.  Should we subsidise taxi transport for those who aren’t served by train when visiting a dying relative?  Would have saved me a small fortune.

> When we have some of the most expensive train travel at the point of use, it can only be to the detriment of social mobility, which when it reduces people's ability to meet their potential would seem to be to the detriment of society (I think).

Well, again, those people lucky enough to live in an area well served by trains.  Lowering the cost of trains will increase inequality between those served by trains and those not.  The problems in society are deeper and more widespread.  

> I wouldn't say that the inequities of the housing market are an argument 'against' tax payers paying towards making train travel more affordable so that the poor(est) are more able to travel for work.

Subsidising the travel of low paid workers to jobs in areas they can’t afford to live is close to directly  putting taxpayers money into the pockets of landlords by allowing house prices to rise beyond a socially and environmentally sustainable level.

> More ease of travel could lead to them becoming more skilled, and then creating employment in the areas they happen to grow up in or live already, and improving the quality of life of other people living there.

It’s a nice idea.  I don’t think it’s what’s happening in general. 

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Timmd on 13:29 Wed
In reply to wintertree:

> You miss my point.  It was that people on low wages shouldn’t have to have a longer commute. People on higher wages shouldn’t be subsidised if they “have” to have a long commute.

> Well, only if both they and their parents are served by a train.  Should we subsidise taxi transport for those who aren’t served by train when visiting a dying relative?  Would have saved me a small fortune.

> Well, again, those people lucky enough to live in an area well served by trains.  Lowering the cost of trains will increase inequality between those served by trains and those not.  The problems in society are deeper and more widespread.  

Reduced train travel cost will have a net benefit on the environment, and on social mobility 'across the board', even if certain inequalities are increased between those who have access to train travel and those who don't. We did have a much wider train network, before Beeching (sp) reduced 'the more spidery' parts of it, the branchlines etc. There will arguably never be absolute equality, but it would still be a good thing to do. 

Edit: The reduction of the bus network doesn't help...

Post edited at 13:35
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willworkforfoodjnr - on 13:47 Wed
In reply to timjones:

> We're not keen on nationalisation because we can remember the ancient, grubby old carriages that we had to put up with before privatisation.

You mean like the 70s pacer I take to work every day?

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timjones - on 15:35 Wed
In reply to willworkforfoodjnr:

> You mean like the 70s pacer I take to work every day?

There were a damn site worse than pacers in use in the '70s!



 

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timjones - on 15:37 Wed
In reply to krikoman:

What makes you think that a nationalised railway would be capable of doing better today?

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krikoman - on 15:42 Wed
In reply to timjones:

> What makes you think that a nationalised railway would be capable of doing better today?


We're better at most things than we were in the 70s, why should this be an exception.

Why do you think we have to go back to the 70's simple to nationalise things? You wouldn't expect to be driving a Morris Oxford if Mini was nationalised would you?

Post edited at 15:44
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timjones - on 15:56 Wed
In reply to krikoman:

You asked why we were wary of nationalisation, you don't have to agree with my answer but my experience of railways today is generally pretty good and certainly far better then it was in the past.

If it isn't bust why would I want it fixed?

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Harry Jarvis - on 15:59 Wed
In reply to timjones:

> If it isn't bust why would I want it fixed?

The idea that many parts of Britain's railway system are not already bust would come as a surprise to many users. 

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timjones - on 16:02 Wed
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

That's probably down to which bits you use and it may also be true to say that some areas were worse than others before privatisation. At the end of the day I just answered a question based on my own experiences.

I remember carriages that wouldn't look out of place on a heritage railway today except there were tattier and grubbier back then.

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krikoman - on 16:05 Wed
In reply to timjones:

>  and certainly far better then it was in the past.

I'm certain it is, but that doesn't mean it can't be equally as good as it is now, if it were nationalised, and it quite obviously doesn't mean we'd have to go back to 1970s standards if it were.

I think it's pretty bust for a number of people, or in fact a number of regions.

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