Friday, 11 November 2011

Improving our railways.

In some parts of the UK there are competing routes and Train Operating Companies. Take for example Birmingham to London.

08.50  Birmingham New Street - London Euston                 84 minutes    £74.50  Virgin
08.52  Birmingham Snow Hill - London Marylebone          99 minutes    £51.00   Chiltern
10.50  Birmingham New Street - London Euston                 84 minutes    £43.30   Virgin
10.52  Birmingham New Street - London Euston               144 minutes    £18.90   London Midland
10.55  Birmingham Moor Steer - London Marylebone       100 minutes    £24.90   Chiltern

There are cheaper advance booking tickets available. The table above shows the fast Virgin services are quicker and more expensive than the Chiltern services, but frankly would you prefer to pay £18.40 to save 16 minutes travel time if buying a buy-and-go ticket?

The cheapest fare at £18.90 offered by London Midland is a slow train to Rugby and then semi-fast via Northampton to London.  Excellent value if you are not in a hurry.

The London Euston -  Birmingham New Street has been re-built twice and electrified.  The Chiltern route is diesel operated  and has been improved over a number of years.  This has led to healthy competition and it may well be the case that further enhancements could improve capacity.  Does this diminish the case for HS2?  HS2 proposals would have a Birmingham - London journey time of 49 minutes but what would be the fare structure?  Would ticket prices discourage potential passengers?

At present one factor discouraging passengers from using the Chiltern service is that it uses Marylebone station which is not well served by the London Underground. I shall consider this in my next railway post.

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