Express & Star comment: Fares rise will railroad us into cars
In possibly the worst new year's gift of all time, long-suffering railway users are being handed a hike in train fares today.
Across the country the cost of train travel goes up by 3.6 per cent – marking the biggest rise in five years at a time when wages remain flat.
This could possibly be tolerated if the services on offer were of a decent standard.
However, those unfortunate enough to use our railways on a regular basis will be only too aware that this is not the case.
The days of passengers reclining in comfort while the train takes the strain are long gone – if they ever existed at all outside of the vivid imaginations of advertising executives.
Any description of travelling on the railways these days usually involves delays, engineering works, cancelled services and overcrowded carriages.
Tickets were already far too expensive before today's rise, yet the Government appears to be completely unwilling to support our rail lines or to take action against fat cat companies that continue to rake in huge profits.
Yet ministers seem to have no issue with funding the extortionate cost of the largely unwanted HS2 vanity project.
It makes a mockery of the Government's lauding of our railways network.
For many commuters, the benefits of using railways instead of cars have become increasingly difficult to see.
People are sick and tired of hearing railways bosses say they need to increase fares so that they can afford to invest in better services.
The fact is that the majority of services are getting worse, making their excuses sound hollow.
And while commuters are saddled with increased fares, rail bosses treat themselves to multi-million pound salaries and huge bonuses.
It is little wonder that protests are set to take place at stations across the country today.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling appears to be oblivious to all of this.
If he fails to get a grip on the situation, 2018 will see passengers ditching the railways in their droves.
It is unlikely that people will be happy to let the train take the strain when their pockets are being emptied out on over-priced tickets.