Costly fares a risky strategy for high speed trains
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.