#Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th August 2020

Like many people, I’ve found that one of the few benefits of the pandemic has been the greater willingness of my employer to let me work from home. While there are both pros and cons to home working, one big advantage has been cutting out the time and cost of the daily commute, indeed remote working has highlighted just how expensive the daily journey to and from work has become.

This week the Government confirmed fares will be going up again in five months time, bringing the total cost of a Three Bridges to London season ticket up to £3,987. This means that ticket prices will have increased by 42% under the Conservatives, a whopping £1,183, far outpacing inflation.

After rent, the cost of a season ticket is for many the biggest single draw on their income. Yet, while we’re being asked to pay more and more for the privilege of going to work, it’s not as though the quality of the service has been getting better.

In fact, under the model of franchise used in our area, it’s not even worthwhile for Southern to make things better. Instead of getting money from ticket sales, the company is paid a fixed rate for their services, meaning that they can essentially only make profit by making cuts, with customers forced to suffer the consequences.

With a large proportion of Crawley’s workforce already having to commute to work, a figure only set to grow as the impact of COVID restrictions and lack of Government action creates thousands of local redundancies, this isn’t something we should just be forced to accept. Indeed, if we are going to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, the importance of an efficient railway network that everyone can afford cannot be overstated.

The reality is railways are a natural monopoly where the market mechanism cannot operate effectively and so long as we have a fragmented, privatised network we will keep having to pay more year-on-year for less. Railways are a vital part of our national infrastructure and by restoring public ownership we can ensure that once again passengers are put before profit.

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