Where’s our rail fare cash go­ing?

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - Harry J Mac­don­ald Churchill Rd, Can­ter­bury

Ev­ery year, ris­ing train fares seem to gen­er­ate much de­bate; per­haps it is time to con­sider what can be done about it.

One way to re­duce fares would be an in­creased pub­lic sub­sidy, but is it re­ally fair that those who can­not use trains should sub­sidise those who can? So what can be done?

Ev­ery busi­ness re­quires three things - cap­i­tal, raw ma­te­ri­als and labour. The cost of cap­i­tal, oth­er­wise known as profit, is about 2% for the rail com­pa­nies so there is not much room for re­duc­tions there. The cost of raw ma­te­rial is also quite low, the largest prob­a­bly be­ing the elec­tric­ity used to power the trains which only leaves the cost of labour.

Ex­pe­ri­enced train driv­ers earn about £50,000 a year, more with over­time. Many would say that this is a fair wage for a re­spon­si­ble job and shifts that can start be­fore 5am, but it is ap­prox­i­mately twice the pay of a bus driver whose level of skill and shift pat­tern must be broadly sim­i­lar. Many would say ‘well done’ to the NUR and to ASLEF for ne­go­ti­at­ing such a good deal for their mem­bers, but it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber who it is that is ul­ti­mately pay­ing these salaries - us.

The next time pas­sen­gers wish to com­plain about fare in­creases, it is worth con­sid­er­ing where most of the money is go­ing. Per­haps com­plaints to ASLEF or the NUR might be more ap­pro­pri­ate than com­plaints to the rail­way-op­er­at­ing com­pa­nies.

Maybe we can also ask Labour what they in­tend to do about the is­sue of pay in the rail­way in­dus­try.

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