I am writing in response to the letter from Sherry M. Fowler entitled “Who will pay rail fare?” published last week. It concerned the cost of the rail journey from Galashiels to Edinburgh.
If a rail price comparison is to be made then it must be on a like-for-like basis and not based on a longer journey in the most expensive place to live in the UK.
Firstly, the distance from Galashiels to Edinburgh is only 32 miles and not the 42 miles distance from Aylesbury to Marylebone which was quoted.
Secondly, the fares charged by Chiltern Railways, who operate the Aylesbury- London route, are more expensive on a cost-per-mile basis because of the costs in the south-east of England compared to Scotland.
Lastly, the writer assumes that all users will avail themselves of the anytime fare when, in fact, I suspect that most users will not be commuters, but shoppers who will take advantage of the off-peak fares.
With that in mind a reasonable comparison may be the journey from Larbert, by Stenhousemuir, to Edinburgh, which is 32 miles. This shows an anytime day return fare to Edinburgh of £11.30 and an annual season ticket of £1,840, almost half of the cost given in Sherry M. Fowler’s letter. Rather than the anytime fare of £28.60 quoted in the letter, the off-peak return fare is only £9.
This compares favourably with the bus fares and would avoid the inconvenience and cost of parking in the centre of Edinburgh.
Also, when a comparison with a car journey is made one must look at the whole costs, including fuel, parking and depreciation. The current mileage rate for a car journey used by Scottish Borders Council is 45 pence per mile. A return trip to Edinburgh from Galashiels would actually cost £28.80. This is more expensive than the rail journey given as an example.
To continue to attack the Borders rail link seems pretty futile given that the Scottish Government is determined to go ahead with the project. We don’t yet know what the fares will be, so I can’t see the point in the letter at this time. I feel we must accept the fact that it is on its way, it will provide jobs and will help the Borders economy.
Boycotting the rail link will surely preclude any further investment on the railways in this region. This will not help improve the lives of Borders folk.
Surely it is more positive to look to the future, not continue with old arguments of the past. The fight should now be to extend the railway to Carlisle and to improve Borders roads – not try to kill a project which is under way.
Last week your correspondent Sherry Fowler suggested the return rail fare from Tweedbank to Edinburgh is likely to be £26.80, the cost of a return ticket between Aylesbury and London.
However, a fairer comparison might be Stirling to Edinburgh, which is a similar distance and is a Scotrail service. On that route the anytime return fare is £13.30 and off-peak £9 return.
The true comparative cost of driving must include not only the fuel (likely to be around £8 for the return trip), but also other mileage-related costs (depreciation, wear and tear on tyres and brakes, repairs), the cost of parking in the city and, not least, the environmental cost.
Roll on 2015 – I’ll be using the train.