The Economist - 13 January 2018 by The Economist

The Economist - 13 January 2018 by The Economist

Author:The Economist [Economist, The]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: The Economist, Tin tức
Publisher: The Economist
Published: 2018-01-11T16:40:50.376000+00:00

Off the rails

Why commuters are deserting trains in south-east England

Higher fares and unreliable services are encouraging more people to work at home

Jan 4th 2018

ALONG with 3m other workers, Eamonn, a civil servant, used to commute into London daily. It was once an easy jaunt of 30 minutes by train from Coulsdon South to Victoria. But after years of strikes and driver shortages at Southern Rail, the operator on that line, getting to work became a lottery—a train running on time felt like a “luxury for special occasions only,” he groans. With Southern cancelling up to 350 trains a day, in one three-week period last autumn he managed to get to the office on only two days. Eventually he moved to Liverpool to escape his awful commute.

Many other Londoners are changing the way they work because of the railways’ poor, pricey service. On January 2nd rail fares across Britain rose by an average of 3.4%, the largest increase since 2013. Over the past decade fares have risen twice as fast as salaries. Falling subsidies mean that passengers now pick up 70% of the rail network’s costs, up from 50% ten years ago.

Until now, passengers have put up with it. Since the industry was privatised in the mid-1990s, the number of rail journeys in the south-east has soared by 130%, though fares have risen by 45% in real terms. But that seems to be changing. The year to April 2017 saw the first big drop in passenger numbers in the south-east outside a recession (see chart).


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