Following on from our post of 4th May about threatened rail cuts, news now emerges of franchises redesignating peak times to increase - by up to 4 times - rail fares.
In our January 2009 report for the RMT union, we identified the following threats from the rail companies:
1. Either attempting to renegotiate franchise agreements, which could
a. Reducing premium payments or requesting extra subsidies
b. Cutting services on less profitable routes
2. Cutting staff numbers to reduce overhead costs, which would increase
unemployment and could lead to worse services and less passenger
3. Raising rail fares, which could drive passengers from the rail into
We have now seen all three in this recession. On point 3, the BBC reports that "Virgin decided to extend ticket restrictions for more than an hour a day", so many services are now peak. One example is that last year, taking the 0915 from London Euston to Manchester, returning at 0855 the next day, would have cost £66. Now that Virgin has extended its peak hours, the same ticket costs £262. It's a similar story at South West Trains - owned by homophobe Brian Souter.
Virgin remember is owned by tax exile Richard Branson who takes tax subsidy but avoids tax. Virgin is so named not because of its owner's sex appeal but because it is based in the Virgin Isles.
Afraid of more franchises defaulting, it appears the Office of Rail Regulation inside the Department for Transport is doing nothing and allowing passengers to be fleeced.
However on the East Coast mainline, which was taken over by the government last year, five trains a week have been reassigned the other way, from peak to off-peak.
The answer is simple: renationalise the railways!