Railways: Fares

Transport written question – answered on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Shadow Secretary of State for Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his latest estimate is of the cost to the public purse of bringing UK rail commuter fares into line with those in other European countries; on what basis he arrived at that estimate; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Paul Clark Paul Clark Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

holding answer 9 March 2009

The latest estimate was outlined at the Transport Committee by my noble Friend, the Minister of State (Lord Adonis) on 25 February. We believe lowering fares to the average levels on the continent, as estimated by Passenger Focus, would cost a minimum of £500 million. The Government have no data independent of Passenger Focus on which to undertake modelling.

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Urmilla Stoughton
Posted on 12 Mar 2009 3:41 pm (Report this annotation)

Why does the government have no data? Surely public transport should be something the government takes an interest in?
During the last frost debacle my husband arrived an hour late for a crucial meeting which will porbably cost him a contract. It is now becoming impossible to commute from the south coast without risking your job - yet twenty years ago it was not a problem at all. Does not the goernment really not care about the cost of lost work days and business contracts?

John Stockdale
Posted on 12 Mar 2009 4:48 pm (Report this annotation)

Urmilla, I think you are looking at the past through rose-coloured specs. I am not an apologist for this government or for the Tory one that privatised the railways. But at least there has been significant investment in rolling stock and the track in the last 20 years and the creaking system has sustained a very substantial rise in passenger numbers. When I commuted, I was frequently inconvenienced. If there is perfectly good research on European fares from an independent source, why should the government have to calculate it again if, as seems clear, they aren't interested in matching the subsidies paid by other governments anyway?