6:30pm Thursday 28th February 2013
Bromley is a borough of commuters, containing a work force accustomed to geographic mobility. The majority of the boroughs citizens rely upon railway networks to get to and from work and are some of the worst affected by increases in ticket prices. Yet for the last several years, the price rises of South Eastern Railway have soared well above inflation, placing tremendous stress upon the people of Bromley.
This January, South Eastern announced a further hike in prices by over four percent, bringing more misery to an already embittered public. The need for increased fairs is not prescient for the privatized rail companies, who are in a healthy economic state. In fact, every single train operator has revealed increased profits for the last two years, with the majority of these dividends being shared amongst wealthy shareholders, as opposed to being passed down to the consumer. The unfettered greed of private railway companies, results in the constant surge in ticket prices, as they are determined to increase their already burgeoning profits at any cost, with no consideration to the living standards of the customers. If the increased revenues were being re-invested into improvements and extensions of the services, there would be some justification for the extortionate fairs, however satisfaction in the British rail network is one of the lowest in Europe with little infrastructure improvement in the last twenty years. Rail companies realize the precarious position the public are in, with millions relying upon trains for employment and travel, thus no matter how high the prices people will always find a way to pay. This is deliberate exploitation of the price inelasticity of a service, amounting to corporate greed, a symptom of a rampant free market. In a time of economic uncertainty when average wages are decreasing, welfare benefits being slashed and living standards squeezed, it is morally repugnant for profitable train operators to be adding to the economic gloom of the working population.
It is clear that the obvious solution to the current rail travel travesty is the re-nationalization of the railways. The British Coal and British Rail Act of 1993, set about the privatization of the nations prized assets, forming a vital component of the Tories predatory capitalist agenda. Even former Conservatives have conceded that it was a grievous error to take a key economic service such as the railways out of public ownership and into the hands of revenue hungry companies, with no responsibility for the consumer. The time has come for the railways to be placed once more back into the hands of the government, as the aims of privatization have failed: trains services have not increased, neither has the standard of travel and prices have soared, far from remaining affordable and competitive.
The public has suffered for long enough and the culture of ticket price inflation must end immediately. The callous, covetous motives of private rail companies are denigrating the national treasure, which is our railway network. For the interests of ordinary people and our infrastructure, governments must act to pave the way for the re-nationalization of our detrimental railways.
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