Is it time to introduce national rail cards like Germany etc?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by Metroland, 5 Jan 2008.

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  1. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    Known as the Bahn Card, it comes in three flavours

    The BahnCard 25

    Gives a 25% discount and may be also used in conjunction with the SparPrice 25 fare.

    The BahnCard 50

    Gives a 50% discount. Senior citizens over 60, students (18-25 years), children (6-17 years), disabled persons (with at least a 70% disability) and those drawing an early pension due to ill health may buy the BahnCard 50 for half the normal price.

    The BahnCard 100

    Is valid on all national DB trains, excluding DB Autozug, in Germany. The spouse or partner of BahnCard 100 holders, as well as children living at their home aged between 6-17 years, receive a complimentary BahnCard 25, and accompanied children under 15 travel free of charge. In other words its an all lines rover valid for 1 year.

    Prices, 2nd class

    Bahn card 25: £39.60
    Bahn card 50: £158.40
    Bahn card 100: £2,520

    http://www.bahn.de/db_uk/view/products/bahncard.shtml
     
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  3. Mojo

    Mojo Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I think the idea of a National Railcard could be a very good one. I know ATOC threw out the idea a few years ago. I think a card for Great Britain could be a very good idea, but it would have to be discussed how it would work alongside other cards for age groups.

    I can understand the idea of having a Network Railcard, as fares in the NSE area were artificially inflated a decade or two ago, and also not to mention the underuse of ex NSE services outside of London off peak that still exists to this day.
     
  4. Bonemaster

    Bonemaster Member

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    Whilst a superb idea it has some major draw backs at the moment, the railway is over capacity at the moment on many routes even off peak and a national discount card even off peak, would not help overcrowding.

    It is also an unofficial policy to manage demand by using price to price people off of trains when the companies are at capacity, and fares are used to balance this demand between peak - off peak and unusable.

    For any national railcard to even become possible we would need some major capacity enhancements to mitigate against these problems
     
  5. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    Partly agree, but on overcrowded lines you could pay a supplement that would help go to further improvements.

    Rail network only has a load factor of 35%, and it's only in London and the SE where you have to add infrastructure to add serious capacity. Most Northern rail services are just 2/3 cars.

    If the government were serious about reducing pollution and solving congestion, they would throw a lot of money and expand the capacity and introduce a £1000 card that would cover trains for 1 year around the country, £1500 with a bus/tram/metro option. A lot of people would simply leave their cars at home or not even buy one.

    You only need 8 million people to sign up to cover the cost of running the passenger trains with no subsidy, and other fares could be reduced to dirt cheap levels, and government money going straight into infrastructure which they could lease to TOCS.

    £1000 is £4000 cheaper than most people spend a year to run a car.
     
  6. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    personally I'd say no. I believe that the sudsidies paid for Intercity rail routes should be withdrawn over a period of 10 to 15 years resulting in higher fares than at present. There is a place for subsidy of public transport but it should be restricted to conurbations and where there are social needs such as some of the Welsh and Scottish Highland Lines.
     
  7. richa2002

    richa2002 Established Member

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    Surely not, we can't be attracting people to rail travel! The main aim at the moment is turn people away with horrendously high fares.
     
  8. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    I expect Nat-Ex, 1st GW, and EMT would love to keep the premiums they make instead of paying them to the government...They might be able to spend them on trains then to relieve overcrowding.

    Well if enough people signed up, there would be no subsidy. The government could assist through interest free loans for those than can't pay £1000 up front.
     
  9. Bonemaster

    Bonemaster Member

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    There is a distinct difference between demand side price management and turning people away, which is what the cheap advance purchase tickets are at the end of the day, its the exact reason that you can never get them on the services you want
     
  10. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Err whilst some TOCs pay the Government small premiums it is no where near enough to cover the subsidy paid to Network Rail to provide the infrastructure. I want intercity rail passengers to pay all of the costs.
    (i'm also in favour of Motorway Tolls asap and National Road pricing in the medium term).
     
  11. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    Well Network rail's money has only been in place since Stephen Byers bought Railtrack back and had to pay off the Railtrack shareholders. The railways were sold, tax payers got their money, and we had to buy it back with the liabilities. Why should low paid people that can't afford cars, pay the full cost of intercity rail travel, when it was a political decision by a Labour government? Bearing in mind Railtrack got no direct subsdiy.

    If you are worried about subsidy, get the airlines to pay their full external costs, add £50 to a short haul flight and ban all flights under 250 miles, which will allow trains to be filled more so they can cover their costs.

    I don't agree with National road pricing unless an alternative is put in place, for that we need to expand public transport and make it cheap and affordable.
     
  12. Nick W

    Nick W Established Member

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    So basically the people living in cities or big enough towns get penalised because enough people will pay high fares to cover the cost of running the services, while people who for whatever valid reason living in more remote areas get dirt-cheap fares, or at least less than people living close to services?

    Personally I think people who move to the sticks should pay the price of their decision. Obviously people born in the countryside or who move there for work purposes have valid reasons and are worthwhile of receiving subsidised services.

    I don't want any form of travel to get more expensive, because I know that public transport won't get any cheaper as a result, and look how much more expensive public transport is getting compared to private travel.
     
  13. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    £2520 for an ALR, let's compare that to buying one ALR a week... £12740 for 52 weeks on the British Network. Sure, there'll be a reduction, but who'd pay anything near that much for a year of unlimited travel?

    My travel expenses PA never reach £200 and an average Glasgow commuter can buy an annual season ticket as it is for a reasonable £1000-1500, which is apparently an immense saving on the expensive morning tickets.

    Let's say they cut it to £10000, railcard at £6,667. It's still very expensive and, although it can promote excellent value for money, I don't see it being popular at the British Price Tag. That said, if I had more money at these prices, I'd love to have one.

    A DB25 style would be easy to roll out though, and I can see it being very popular. I'd say put similar restrictions on it to a railcard, charge a bit more (remember this isn't for a consessionary group), and it could be worthwhile to many and encourage more passengers to use the train.
     
  14. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    Let's face it, we won't follow the lead of countries like Germany, as ATOC, the DfT, etc are all happy for Britain's railways to be overpriced, they want more revenue but they don't want more people using rail.
     
  15. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    Good heavens no. Deal with our energy crisis (they'd sooner size up to Iran and Iraq), deal with climate change and congestion. No chance. Why not keep persecuting the non car owner who is usually young, poor, old or disabled in some way.

    Well you don't need to charge £12k

    Railway costs £10 billion to run (revenue + subsidy).

    Take out railfreight and other non-passenger revenues, left with £8bn.

    4 million people with £2000 tickets covers all costs, or 8 million with £1000 tickets.

    You could charge extra for seat reservations. Also on some tickets you could have it valid for say up to 5 named people - although not travelling at once. Which would save companies and families a fortune in travel costs.
     
  16. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    Not quite sure how introducing cheap travel is going to reduce energy consumption.
    If you introduce a £2000 all lines railcard for a start huge numbers of existing annual season ticket holders will switch who is going to pay £4000 for a Southampton to London Terminals ticket when for half price you can have all lines. This is going to lead to a huge revenue drop for all the ex NSE TOCs.
    Secondly with an annual ticket available for £2000 with the housing cost differential. huge numbers of people are going to start long distance commuting. This is going to cause a huge demand in rail travel and huge increases in overcrowding (and increases in fuel consumption)
     
  17. me123

    me123 Established Member

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    Good points there; the majority of train users have no choice (I don't at the moment, although I could have soon). 5 million people I'm sure would pay this money for such a ticket (I would in the future, although I can't afford it ATM), which means there would be a profit here. Plus tickets from occasional travellers, upgrades, reservations; it'd all work well for the railways. But you'd have to ensure that it'd be profitable; as much profit-railways aren't popular, is it not essential or at least beneficial to have money to spend on improvements?

    I think it would be good to have the 25% off idea implemented, maybe with some free rail travel as well (say, four days per person per year). It would encourage use of the train (if they used it for free, they might pay for it later in the year if they need the journey again) and encourage people to purchase said card.
     
  18. Metroland

    Metroland Established Member

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    Hmn, more passengers per train isn't going to make a lot of difference regarding fuel consumption. A lot more trains would, but it depends whether they are being switched from cars or it's induced extra travel. Certainly the induced travel argument has some merit, especially with regard housing. That's why I wouldn't be for free transport. Loss of revenue? Perhaps, depends if it's made up elsewhere off peak. There is A LOT of spare seat capacity off peak.

    The induced travel argument also holds true for other forms of transport, and it makes little sense for people to be arguing we need lower costs there too, especially with regard to low cost foreign flights that do little to benefit this economies economy. Yet the government seems to want to do everything to provide for that and generally go in a globalisation direction and increasing overall travel and hence energy consumption.

    By your token we should be restricting long distance flights and car ownership. What I am suggesting is make alternatives seem cheaper in comparison and mop up that 65% of empty seats capacity that is out there.

    Yep £2000 pounds is lower than a season ticket on some lines, of course I've just used £2000 to illustrate an easy revenue model to understand. You could easily have it much more expensive and a much lower priced off peak ticket. The idea can't be that crazy, because many European countries have it, and it's this countries failure to invest in capacity that would perhaps be the biggest barrier.
     
  19. P156KWJ

    P156KWJ Established Member

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    unfortunately we live in a country with a biased and uncaring rail system with its franchises.
     
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