Railways set for radical overhaul to strike better deal for all

by Alister POOLE on May 20, 2011

Commuters are facing the railways’ biggest shakeup since the Railtrack era after report called for at least a billion pounds in costs to be completed stripped from the industry with all involved given a “better deal”.

A complete overhaul of the fares tariff provided an eye-catching recommendation in studies by Sir Roy McNulty, who is the Civil Aviation Authority’s former chairman. The report into the costs of the rail industry also outlines changes to completely cut £5.2bn state subsidies, including phasing out ticket booths in small stations, as well as conductors, and also handing train operators complete control of maintenance on selected routes.

Mr McNulty says that fares in the UK are around 30% higher than they are in neighbouring European countries such as France, Holland, and Sweden, with operating costs 40% higher than these mentioned countries. There’s a clear imperative to hand both farepayers and taxpayers better deals, said McNulty, and this industry has serious cost deficiency issues to address. All concerned should be aware that UK passengers are currently paying way above the odds, he added.

Giving a warning that fare policies are needlessly increasing overcrowding, radical proposals are made by the report, which includes scrapping reduced-rate walk-up tickets for journeys that involve long distances and lifting restrictions on certain commuter season tickets.  In the wake of this report, the government has announced a fares review and has pledged that it won’t add to the financial burdens that farepayers face as they already spend at least £6.2bn per year on getting around on the railways.

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