20.1.91 BBC Radio 4 (not broadcast)
Last week on Radio 4 News (15.1.91), an MP asked whether it was beyond the wit of BR to devise a fares system where standing passengers would pay less. It is not. What they may find difficult is how to stop people who pay the "Standing only" fare from cheating by using a variation of the 1st Class fiddle. In this game, passengers pay standard fare but sit in the 1st class "willing to pay if caught". A new "standing only" fare may actually eliminate standing as passengers who presently force their way onto obviously full trains decide to wait 5" for the next train with their "Standing only" ticket. There, they can park themselves firmly in a seat of the next commuter train secure in the knowledge that ticket inspection is rare, & preparing their sarcastic speech about the complexity of ticket fares. Dressed in a stylish business suit & carrying the obligatory executive briefcase & Personal Organiser, they will with a straight face explain that they hadn't noticed that the ticket carried in large block capitals the words "STANDING ONLY". They can take the name of the poor ticket collector & threaten to write to the Times, MP etc., criticising BR for "having so many different fares"
PS - they will be more likely to have their letter published than I will.
In January 1991, a Daily Telegraph report quoted £3,225
paid for a Diss to
(It was not published. In 1995, attendees at Parliament were paid 72p per mile).
27.6.91 phoned BBC R4 letters (not broadcast)
How can you expect rail tickets to guarantee a seat when each is valid for scores, hundreds or thousands of different trains & the buyer doesn't specify all of the trains concerned? Try paying for a hotel room in their peak without specifying both arrival & departure dates. They also charge higher in the peak because it is the peak not because their costs are higher. Try getting a refund from a hotel when you change your mind at short notice.
4.10.95, fax The Times (not published)
The “Rail Watchdog” has complained that BR would not, this month, for the first time, announce proposed national fare rises for next year. My book Blueprints for Bankruptcy, published early 1993, showed how Govt interference, legislation & policies had bankrupted railways. I listed under "What BR can learn from the Private Sector" 17 items on prices, the first being: "Do not advertise increases, publicise only bargain offers". Since then, the MoT has continued a 40 year practice of directing BR not to increase fares to a level managers deem necessary. When railways are privatised, the Regulator & Ministers notwithstanding, I predicted that fares will rise. It is naive to believe otherwise. In my business & personal dealings, I have yet to find a supplier or trader who routinely announces any price increases - except when they can blame Govt. One item I did not anticipate was metrication, from which traders were making increased profits on the day before it was supposed to apply. Rail fares will have to wait until miles are replaced by kilometres.
18.4.96 phoned Radio pm Letters (not broadcast)
Sir George Young has emphasised that fares in the private sector will be capped. The Good News is that rail fares have been capped by Courts of Law & Governments since 1923. The Bad News is that the Private Sector shouldn't need capping anyway; they are supposed to reduce prices! He also said that with over half of the system privatised; only 1/3rd of BR's former subsidy is being given to the private sector. That is because they haven't got around to trying to find franchisees for the scores of rural services which need the bulk of the subsidy. Incidentally, they were all retained because his predecessor Ministers would not allow closure. They are giving subsidies to former InterCity which had no subsidy after 1988.
3.12.08 e-mail The Times (not published)
Whoever made the statements
quoted about jacking up prices, (Clark, Times 18 November), was harbouring
illusions that BR was allowed the freedom of private sector industry, which
when demand exceeds supply – following basic economic theory – jacks up prices,
reduces the quantity, or both. He will be surprised to learn that BR fares
trailed inflation by up to 47 points. If fares had kept 1% below inflation, BR
would have been £11bn better off by 1993, without allowing for 45 years
cumulative interest. Despite that, Ministers were interfering in BR pricing
into the 1990s. It has clearly escaped his notice that private sector railways
have ‘jacked up fares’, despite government funding assets which were supposed
to be funded in the ‘New Jerusalem’ by the private sector. If
15.5.09 Posted on Daily Telegraph web-site
"Adrian H" (30.8.07) cannot possibly recall fares rising by 25% pa, because it did not happen. For 20 years fares were held down by a Court of Law. Annual Accounts show that it took from 1948 to 1960 for fares to rise by 25% and another 5 years before rising a further 25%. Had fares risen by 25% pa, a �1 fare in 1948 would have become �228,000 by 1993.
27.7.09 to BBC Today programme (not broadcast)
The ATOC spokesman on the Today programme this morning compared the
24.11.09 Daily Telegraph (not published)
Sir Edgar Fay (Obituary 24 November) was representing the British Transport Commission in 1961, when it applied for the permission of the Transport Tribunal to raise fares which were 36 points behind the RPI. To illustrate the distance one could travel, he said that the cost of a monthly Season would enable a user to travel 2,244 miles Brighton-London compared to 2,178 miles London-Turkey by the Simplon-Orient. The President queried if this was via the new route! Once again, Sir Edgar’s plea was in vain because by the following year, fares were still trailing the RPI by 33 points. When the Tribunal was abolished by government in 1968 – after Dr. Beeching, called for similar pricing freedom to the private sector, fares were 41 points behind the RPI and the ruinous reign of the Tribunal – a unique court of law – had cost BR over £10bn in fares than would have applied if fares merely kept pace with inflation – which much of the private sector was witlessly exceeding, as it opened the door for cheaper imports.