Costly fares a risky strat­egy for high speed trains

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

ASH­FORD’s fu­ture pros­per­ity is re­liant to a very large ex­tent on the new high-speed rail ser­vice to Lon­don, which be­gins at the end of next year. A 37-minute jour­ney to the cap­i­tal will be a tempt­ing prospect to both busi­nesses and com­muters, es­pe­cially those who al­ready live here and will see their trav­el­ling times halved. But the new high-speed ser­vice looks as if it will come at a high price, with South­east­ern propos­ing to hike its fares to Lon­don by about 35 per cent. This makes the jour­ney all the less tempt­ing and raises ques­tions about the wis­dom of such a pric­ing pol­icy. As Ash­ford MP Damian Green points out, “squeez­ing ev­ery last penny” out of com­muters is a high risk busi­ness strat­egy. It’s also one that could back­fire if those great­look­ing new trains are speed­ing their way to the cap­i­tal ev­ery day with only a hand­ful of well-heeled trav­ellers on board. Ash­ford has been wait­ing a long time, and put up with a lot of dis­rup­tion, for the sake of the new high speed rail ser­vices. It would be lit­tle short of a dis­grace if or­di­nary com­muters were priced out of us­ing them.

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