Rail fare increases of 8% from the start of next year were announced today. To put this in context, let’s compare the price of rail season tickets and quality of rail infrastructure in East Anglia and Germany.
In Germany, £3,339 (EUR £3,800) pays for an annual season ticket, known as a BahnCard 100, for the whole country on all national and most local rail networks. For this price you can travel the 480 miles from Hamburg to Munich or indeed anywhere else you like for work and leisure. That’s less than £7 per route mile per year.
Now let’s look at annual season ticket prices in East Anglia.
30 miles from Chelmsford to London is £3,260 rising 8% to £3,521 or £109 per route mile rising to £117.
90 miles from Stowmarket to London is £5,400 rising 8% to £5,832 or £60 per route mile rising to £65.
110 miles from Norwich to London is £6,450 rising 8% to £7.063 or £59 per route mile rising to £64.
Commuters keep being promised that this is to invest in the railways, but the investment seems be lagging a long way behind the prices.
Overhead line problems and speed restrictions on the Norwich to London line in the hot weather this summer were caused by the lack of overhead line auto-tensioning. In simple terms this means hanging concrete weights on a pulley at the end of the overhead line to keep it equally tight and straight in hot and cold weather. The Germans managed to auto-tension all major rail lines many years ago.
Meanwhile, the Norwich to London rolling stock is 30-year-old British Rail Mark 3A. The only place you’re likely to see rolling stock that old in Germany is in a museum.