Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Fare Dodging For Franchisees

So, let me work this one out. The taxpayer is down for £700 million as a result of the fiasco over the National Express franchise for the East Coast main line. It is said that it grossly overbid for the franchise contract on the basis of annual passenger growth of 9% up to 2015 or whenever. Was that compound I wonder or simple? Or didn’t they get round to that one? Even so, it is a huge increase, obtainable only if prices could be reduced in real terms, if not nominal. But the fares went up, didn’t they, because of the liabilities arising from the auction system and its costs inspired by the government? As well as the restructuring of fares, which amounted to another increase, and the racking up of any additional charges.

The Prime Minister is a man from Fife, National Express is part of a very Scottish company which flits about politically according to where benefit lies, and the Chief Executive of National Express has suddenly left to spend more time with his toy train set. He is a Mr. Bowker, who has a great deal of financial and political experience, but when asked about coupling trains thinks that you are talking about leasing them rather than moving them. Moreover he has hung around with the Blairs, sharing an interest in ancient pop music and imaginative financing.

The way it has worked has been to up the costs of travel, notably to the poorest, pour zillions into the pockets of all the usual financial entities, and put a hefty tax on real travel by rail. From time to time I need to travel by rail, so yet again, I will be paying for all this nonsense. And the reason for the “Flying Scotsman” picture is that once long ago, I worked on a former LNER station where A3 class locomotives were based, including that particular one for a short period.

The men I met then had been there before the nationalisation of 1947, but some before the rationalisation of 1923. They gave a lifetime to the railway, yet they earned less in their working lives than Bowker did in a month.

No comments:

Post a Comment