- July 22, 2019
- Posted by: Siobhan Baillie
- Category: Young People
I am hoping that parents and teachers will encourage Stroud students to take advantage of a new railcard for 16 and 17 year olds. This will soon to be launched by the Conservative Government in time for the new school term.
Many young people rely on trains to get to school, college and work and Conservatives are determined to ensure that rail fares are affordable for young people and their parents across the country. The new railcard will guarantee 50% off all rail travel until the cardholder reaches their 18th birthday. The new railcard is expected to benefit up to 1.2 million young people.
The release of the railcard is in time for new school year. It follows the hugely successful launch of the 26-30 railcard earlier this year, when 11,000 cards were sold on the first day alone. Now all young adults, from the ages of 16 to 30, will benefit from cut price fares, helping them with the cost of living.
Please note that I am investigating the issue of new railcards only being available digitally as not all young people have access to a smartphone or are able to use one. This was raised by a local mother and Ministers are looking into the matter with me.
I welcome the initiative above and elsewhere on ticket reductions. I have set out a few notes below.
• I have written previously about the 26-30 year old railcard that we introduced to cut a third off the price of most rail tickets (DfT, News Story, 2 January 2019).
• We have frozen regulated rail fares in line with inflation for the 6th year in a row – meaning annual season ticket holders will have approximately £425 extra in their pockets in five years to 2020 (BBC News, 16 August 2016; The Guardian, 11 August 2018).
• The government is investing record amounts into the railways and an independent review is due to report in the autumn. The Rail Review has been established to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks.
I used to commute for work on the train. I found the season ticket cost eye watering and my blood pressure went up a few times with cancelled trains or problems. My personal view therefore is to welcome the above initiatives but feel this is one area we cannot rest on.
Nationalising services like Labour suggests is not the answer. Their plans are not only unaffordable to the country (surprise surprise) and will negatively impact majority of taxpayers who do not use the trains. They will also fail to improve services.
And Labour complaining about ticket costs? Worth noting that rail fares rose above inflation under the last five years of Labour and by 11% in their final year in office. Rail fares rose faster than inflation between 2005 and 2009. The average annual fare rise in Labour’s last years was 5.1% (since 2010 rail fares have risen at lower average rate of 3.3% a year).