Stop Virgin Trains Ridiculous Railcard Fare Rises
Sign this petition to stop Virgin trains trebling rail fares for anyone travelling at peak time with a railcard. From the 6th September Virgin Trains is scrapping off peak fares on peak time trains for railcard users. This means that when the new policy comes into place, railcard users will now only be allowed to purchase peak time tickets, resulting in much higher train fares. Particular attention needs to be paid to anyone, (including myself), who has a 16-25 Young Persons railcard and use the trains in order to commute to work everyday - most often on peak time services. This sudden U-turn in policy will have a direct negative impact many and is a threat to people’s careers if they can no longer afford to travel to work.
Bringing in this new policy is justified on the grounds that railcard users will still be eligible for a third off ticket prices, however, as this discount now applies to a higher fare, I will still have to pay treble what I do now. The new price for my daily commute is going to be £86 whereas I currently pay £27.This is clearly unsustainable as it is more than my entire daily wage. Should I, therefore, have to consider leaving my current internship for the sake of a franchise worth billions getting yet more pay?
Credit to Virgin for being the only rail company to offer this deal, however, the company that prides itself on being better than anyone else has now conformed to other train operator's standards of removing this privilege. This is completely at odds to the year 2012 when they made a big deal over the fact they lost their contract for the Western Coast rail line to FirstGroup. The company went to lengths to win it back, calling on the Department for Transport to urgently review the situation. They even made an e-petition which detailed 50 reasons as to why Virgin should win back the west coast line. Crucially, reason number 29 in their words is: "We're the only company that offers deals for customers with railcards during peak time travel"; many of us doing relatively lower paid jobs in London, only applied for them in the first place because we researched train fares and found this commitment from Virgin, which made commuting just about affordable. There is no realistic prospect for many of us to continue in our jobs with these massive, unexpected price rises implemented with almost no notice.
From my hometown of Rugby, this will affect anyone travelling to popular work destinations such as London, Milton Keynes and Birmingham. In particular, this policy will penalise those travelling to London more, because train prices for this route are already absurdly expensive. Most people, like myself, who commute to London for work, do so for the unparalleled opportunities it provides for future careers and are already willing to make huge sacrifices both financially, to afford the current train prices, and by accepting that commuting can often be stressful and take up a lot of time. Currently, I am often out the house 12 hours a day. Commuting is the only viable option for a lot of people because living in London is already too expensive.
This particular age group are more likely to have gone to university, so are already in debt, and are currently doing low paid internships or entry level graduate jobs to get the most out of their degree that they spent thousands of pounds studying for. This new policy is inflicting a situation on myself and many others that is not financially viable. In my case, the only other options I am left with is to get a London Midland train (which is still more expensive than I pay now and double the commuting time - a one way to London is 1 hour 40 minute. It’s also worth highlighting that this makes the increase in the Virgin fares redundant as more people will opt to competitor services), or I will be forced to purchase weekly/monthly passes. However, these do not accept railcards and are more expensive. I will also be forced to pay for travelling at weekends as well even though I only travel weekdays. These passes will mean an increase in train fares by over £52 a week, which is an additional £208 a month on top of what I already pay (which is a lot!). So I will then be paying over 3/4 of my wage to travel to work and is something I cannot afford to do. Anyone commuting from places further than Rugby are in an even more dire situation; commuters from Birmingham, at the moment pay £170 a week by purchasing an open return on a railcard for every day they work. A weekly pass will set them back £265. The passes are also not practical for anyone who commutes to work part time.
The higher price comes at a time when train service standards are falling, I have been late a number of times to work because there have been problems on the trains; only in the news recently it has emerged that Virgin Trains paid out more than £10 million in one year for compensation due to train disruptions. I therefore don’t think its justified that Virgin Trains are penalising young people who commute to work by enforcing higher prices on a service that does not always deliver excellence.
Please sign this to bring attention to the situation and highlight how unfair Virgin is being and get them to reconsider their situation.
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