Hundreds of frustrated commuters were left waiting on the concourse of Brighton Station last night as the never-ending nightmare of poor rail services continues.
There seems to be no light at the end of this particular tunnel as rail strikes, mismanagment, and poor long-term decision making at the top have all worked in concert to clog it up and put a halt to hopes that the new year might bring a new approach to the ever intensifying problems the nation’s 17th century rail infrastructure faces.
Visibly frustrated by the disruptions the signal fault was imposing on their plans for the evening, some passengers spoke to me regarding their particular situations.
Ben, 28, a recrutment consultant living and working in Brighton had a date at the theatre to look forward to but was sadened by the fact that he was now going to miss the curtain call and might have to meet his date afterwards for the dinner they had booked.
“It just frustrates me so much. I can’t rely on the service at all. You pay so much for a ticket and you can’t even be guarenteed to arrive on schedule. It’s really not a lot to ask is it?”
Vicky, 24, made a similar point to Ben, and expressed a similar frustration. She works in Brighton but commutes in and out from Three Bridges, so relies quite heavily on the service for her regular transport arrangments. The disruptions to the service had a knock-on effect on her plans, meaning that she had to make arrangements to extend her childcare for the evening for an unknown period of time.
“I hate it. It’s like being stranded at the airport after a plane being cancelled. It has a domino effect on everything else. I’ll have to pay for more childcare, I’ll be late making dinner for the kids so they’ll be late going to bed and tired in the morning. I’m trying to find an alternative to trains at this point because this can’t go on”
One lady was waiting on the platform with her shopping bags which were visibly defrosting more and more by the moment.
The lack of consistency in scheduling has a serious effect on people’s lives. Transport should move you around, not be something that you have to move your life around.
In Britain, we have the 2nd most expensive train ticket prices in Europe. Maybe you’re thinking that this can be explained by a low level of government subsidy in the country with regard to the national rail infrastructure, but this would be mistake.
In fact we have the 3rd highest level of government subsidy into rail in the EU, it’s just that instead of this subsidy going into the renewal and redevelopment of the infrastructure and service itself, it is feeding the huge growth in profits that rail companies continue to make.
All while we have some season ticket prices around the capital rising to around 13% of the average annual wage! Surely the free movement of labour within the UK can only help in bilding stronger economic networks within the nation, in giving individuas more security and stability in their lives, and stronger inter-community ties.
Many have called for the nationalisation of the rail network in this country, or at least the return of mainlines into public ownership. The funny thing is, lots of these lines are already publicly owned – just not by the UK Government!