I was interested in the article “Fury as rail passengers face new fare hike” (August 18) and especially the comments of Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group which represents train operating companies.
Mr Plummer is right in that money from fares pays to run and improve the railway, making journeys better, boosting the economy creating skilled jobs and supporting communities. And again that “politicians set increases to season tickets”. But what has and will be happening on our Fen Line makes a mockery of these broad brush claims.
In our case the railway is not being improved – it is going downhill. In 2012 we were promised half-hourly trains and now that is not happening, in 2016 the railway said we would have half-hourly trains ‘at peak times’ from next year, but that is now not happening. Far from getting faster journey times, although the newer trains are capable of going faster, they will in fact be going considerably slower from late next year. So, if all the improvements Mr Plummer claims add up to “boosting the economy and creating skilled jobs”, then when his members set out to deliver reduced standards it follows that they have decided to blight the local economy and, by extension, destroy skilled jobs. But the claim which is plain wrong is that “politicians set increases to season tickets”. No they don’t. They set out the maximum increase that is allowed. That means it is quite within the means of Mr Plummer’s members, such as the operator of the Fen Line, when they deliberately set out to reduce standards, to also reduce fares, and that is why it is so right that the borough council has called for fares to be reduced from December 2018 and why it is right for unremitting pressure to be kept on our failing train infrastructure provider and operator to both do better or quit the line.