|Creaking: Trains on the Great Eastern mainline have seen better days|
The Great Eastern mainline from Norwich to London is single track most of the way, runs the oldest trains on the national network (some were built in the 1970s!), has the worse punctuality in the country but still the passengers pay more per mile than any rail passenger in the UK and probably in Western Europe.
I’m lucky in that when I go to London on business I don’t personally have to pay for the journey from hell (I get to suffer it for free!) as I claim the cost from my employer. But I can’t claim the psychological costs from my employer!
However, I am very aware not only do people have to put up with a smelly, dirty unpunctual service from Greater Anglia (aka Abellio) but they have to pay for the privilege as well out of their own wages.
This has hit home today as my wife has secured a job in London. But this comes at a price: £5,608 and climbing to be precise. This is the cost of a 12 month rail season ticket from the Greater Anglia railway operator. Now, the firm my wife is joining is large and they can afford to provide a loan to my wife for her one and quarter hour commute into work everyday. But there is a limit her new company will loan her: £5,000. It doesn’t take an accountant to work out there is a shortfall of £608 there. When my wife raised this with her employer they would not budge above £5,000 as this is the maximum they can offer for tax law reasons but did state they were shocked by how expensive a season ticket between Ipswich and London is compared to the cost presented by other employees for a similar distance into London from other parts of the country.
Well, there is no need to be shocked any more. The reason East Anglia commuters pay more is because they are being milked by the Government to prop up railway services in the North of England, which if they weren’t subsidised by the hard pressed taxpayers of Suffolk and Norfolk would not be viable and would have to shut down because of a lack of demand. Sounds like socialism to me.
I know Ipswich MP Ben Gummer is lobbying transport ministers to change the funding formula for the railway network in the UK so it is fairer and promotes more investment in the creaking track and rolling stock infrastructure. But it is is a disgrace we have been paying more for a worse service for so long.