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January 18, 2007

Standing room only

Britain’s trains seem to be becoming like low-cost airlines. Only without the low cost.

The Head of Railways at the Department for Transport said yesterday:

If you are travelling a relatively short distance I do not think that it is unacceptable to expect to stand in the peak. The cost of providing sufficient capacity to enable everyone to get a seat would expand the railway budget way beyond anything we have here.

Dr Mike Mitchell clarified his remarks, saying a ‘short journey’ was anything under thirty minutes in length.

Given that a season ticket into London costs £5,000 a year, this is unbelievable. There should be an urgent investment in longer trains and longer platforms, as well as an attempt to reduce prices from their spectacular highs.

For many years, train travel has only been a realistic option for wealthy people. Now it seems you also have to be patient, well-balanced and slim to use the railways. How come most European countries can manage to provide a civilised train system, yet we can’t even come close.


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