Value people, not the train companies.
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Every day, I travel from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton via train. Each morning, getting up at 5.45 to ensure I get to work on time, I wander the walk to the station knowing the arduous journey ahead of me. From January 2, 2018, rail fares will rise on average by 3.4 percent. The National Rail website states that "Not all fares increase: some fares may go up, many will stay the same and some will reduce in price". Mine, however, has increased costing £200 per month. More painstakingly, I am a teacher in a college and are part of this 1% pay cap. This has only one matter to rise which is about value for money on trains, however, with me also being a teacher the two issues are intrinsically linked.
Firstly, the fee for my wife and I to get to work has vastly increased year on year. It, now, costs us more to get to work and back via trains than it does our mortgage.
Secondly and more prudently, is the value for money aspect. I put it to the Right Honourable Theresa May, herself, to answer the question regarding what commuters get in return.
Now, the website indicated that 97% of all fees are returned to the National Rail service and thus back into customers. Let me tell you what I see each day.
(Standing Room Only). Whilst writing this, I am in fact on a train and we are just ONE station into my 5 journey destination. There are no seats at all and more than half are standing. In order for people to get off the train, current passengers must leave and then reembark because of the tight squeeze. The woman next to me, in fact, missed her station because she didn't have time to squeeze past the volume of other passengers and thus had to either pay for another ticket or walk (which she did). From what I see, this fare rise does not merit value for money. What am I, and the 1.7 billion people, using this service each year get in return? Is it fair that I spend £200 each month to stand up for 1 hour each way after a hard days work? Correct me if I am mistaken, but I have never seen an image of you on a train in these conditions? Part of being Prime Minister is understanding what people want. With many in your cabinet turning against you, perhaps now is the time to make that connection? Force the train companies to provide bigger trains, like Virgin, and not just see passengers as money.
The next issue is that the current pledge of ensuring that 95% of homes have broadband is not mirrored on the train service. As a lecturer, there are never enough hours in the day. Waking up at 5.45 and getting home at 7, those hours spent on the trains are paramount. Imagine Theresa May, you not having cellular access, or internet on your way to work and the detriment this would cause you. Arriva Trains Wales do offer this service, despite their shocking trains and time management. Virgin Trains have now started charging, so in addition to that monthly fee of commuting, I now have to pay to actually do work, or sit there gazing into the darkness of the windows. London Midland do not even offer this service. This, again, links back to value for money. It is a requirement in today's day and age to expect Wi-Fi on trains if we are to be charged these fees, keeping in mind the train companies don't provide enough seats.
Based on the above, I am calling for:
1) Train companies to provide more carriages during peak time to ensure that every person gets a seat as should be a passenger's right.
2) A hold on rail fare rises until all pay caps have been lifted from the public sector. No person should have to pay more to get to work than the house they live in.
I am asking for every single person who uses the rail network to respond to this with support and ensure that we get value for money in what we are paying for. Remember, without us, the people, the train companies have no power. We are the key to their and our success and together we can bring about this change and much more.
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