We Brits seem to have a funny relationship with devolution. Open the paper one day and you will find the cry of ‘post code lottery’ when things are different in different place. Look the next day and you will see cries of ‘local people must decide’.

With rail devolution on the agenda it is important that all passengers’ interests continue to be represented and voiced. There will always be administrative cliff faces which produce consequent behaviours.

Free car parking at many stations outside of London, where big metropolitan authorities hold sway, can lead to people driving across the boundary to save money – not really good for anyone. Fare zones and boundaries need much attention. The mire that was the interaction between National Rail and Transport for London has been much cleared up inside London as Oyster pay as you go has spread. However, once you head out of the Oyster boundary it can get mighty confusing.

Do most people who have a travelcard know that they can use that to get to the boundary and then just pay for the rail travel beyond? My regular travel to Sevenoaks is always much enlivened by having to queue at London Bridge to buy my Zone Three extension which cannot be bought anywhere other than a station. This does not encourage anyone and it adds a ten minute penalty to the journey – and adds to costs of the industry.

The cliff faces of devolution will need careful work to ensure they are as shallow as possible. Steep cliffs will cause resentment.

One comment

  1. Dave H says:

    And it persists in Outer London too. It is cheaper to get a standard return fare to Farncombe from Waterloo than Guildford, a detail many discovered when CTC moved offices. By skilful ticket purchase those commuting for a distance in to Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds etc save a pile by buying PTE cards and a rail season ticket to the boundary station. No wonder the wider public complain about fares when the system is so fragmented. Of course those with the time or the insight to pick up on those little wrinkles are not complaining about high rail fares, and enjoy good prices for walk-up travel – One regular and a favourite is where a shorter and faster (in overall running time – but not always aided by a good connection) is less than 50% of the price for the simple move of travelling via X rather than any of the other routes, but the National Rail search often fails to show this option, because it fails on the search algorithm.

    I had thought your comments were linked to the detail that in Scotland we’ve had the benefits of a ‘deep alliance’ for many years and sotto voce the Scotrail refranchising seems to be rolling along without train wreck that’s happened South of the Border. We’ve also opened a n electrified line at a bargain price and done the job in 44 days. Merseyrail seems to be managing well too. M aybe there is something in regional devolution

    Hope your car-free experience is developing – worth trying a folding bike from the Manchester hire point if you are up to the Northern office regularly. Folding bikes in town make a huge difference to journey times (and elimination of waiting, after you’ve been using bus and taxi.

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