Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Rail Fares Freeze – whose promise?

When Labour promised an energy price freeze they were condemned for

  • interfering in the market
  • having a freezing effect on necessary investment
  • effectively preventing price drops

And who was condemning them?

Now we have an election promise to freeze rail fares? Whose promise?

The Conservatives are promising a real-term freeze …
BBC News Website 10 April 2015 : Election 2015: Tories pledge rail fare freeze

But this is not any Labour Promise it is a Conservative and Unionist Promise. But unlike M&S it is full of holes.

  1. “Real-term” – i.e. they will continue to raise prices according to their measurement of inflation (RPI). It may be low at the moment but it won’t stay low.
  2. “affecting about half of all rail fares if they win the election.” (ibid)
    1. So it’s only “regulated fares”, so won’t affect fares I pay, but will affect fares paid by London commuters (who live in Outer Suburban constituencies which are overwhelmingly already Tory (and unlikely to change whatever is promised!)
    2. “If they win the election” – which presumably means if they win an outright majority of seats (on the usual minority of votes). They been studying the FibDems!
    3. Unregulated fares will rise (above inflation) to keep the franchisees in sufficient lolly.
  3. “Labour called the pledge “unfunded, uncosted and… totally unbelievable.”  (ibid) Wide up, it’s an election pledge – you expect costings?! It’s another dog whistle.

I think that Labour’s “freezes” are more genuine than Tory “freezes”. And this one does not even have the benefit of being a temporary mechanism whilst the market is sorted out. The Tories seem quite happy with the current way the railways are run.


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