Thursday, 19 February 2009

Paying more for less. Britain's rail rip off.

Last week I travelled reasonably intensively on the Italian rail network, Trenitalia. From Wednesday to Saturday there was only one day when my girlfriend and I did not take a train. We suffered no delays to speak of. Our second class carriages were clean and comfortable and we covered fairly long distances both quickly and inexpensively.

Contrast this experience to the misery of rail travel in Britain. Although I am not a particularly frequent user of the mainland rail network, nevertheless I have spent many hours waiting in stations for delayed services, staring forlornly at sidings where the train has come to an unaccountable and interminable halt, inhaling noxious air which seems to emanate directly from adjacent toilets. All of which comprises an unimpeachable service when it's set against Translink’s efforts to deliver public transport to long suffering travellers in Northern Ireland.

Not that Italian trains are uniquely superior to those in Britain. Swiss trains, German trains, Spanish trains, Danish trains, Polish trains, trains in Ukraine and Russia – I have used all of them without the slightest hitch and each one has been cheaper and pleasanter than any train journey in the British Isles. A delayed train in any of these countries is a remarkable event.

Yet which EU country has the highest train fares? You’ve guessed it.



CW said...

I agree. I'm due to attend a conference in Newcastle (as in Geordieland, "Why aye man", etc, not Co. Down) soon. I was going to get the train from London, but then discovered that it's actually cheaper to fly. So I booked a flight for about £60 rather than taking the train which would have cost over £100 and taken twice as long.

Kloot said...

I spent a few weeks in Japan last year. Now there is a train service you could actually set your clock by.

If a train arrives late, they give you a certificate for your boss to explain the lateness

I remember a couple of years back, taking a trip to the folk and transport museum and seeing an Irish Rail carriage on display.. it wasnt much older than the one I used to take in the mornings

O'Neill said...

We'll be travelling Paris to Marseille next month on a TGV- 60 euros return. OK, we had to book it a month in advance= but still, for the same (or maybe even longer?) length of journey we're paying less than half we would have done in Britain.