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Railway Fares and Financing Debate

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  • UserCharles Robarts, Network Rail, Linda McCord, Passenger Focus, Andrew Allen, Campaign for Better Transport, Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, Liberal Democrat Party, Daniel Zeichner, Labour Party, Chamali Fernando, Conservative Party, Rupert Read, Green Pa
  • ClockFriday 16 January 2015, 19:30-21:30
  • HouseRiley Auditorium, Clare College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Sebastian Gibson.

Rail-related bodies:

Charles Robarts, Director of Regulation and Planning, Network Rail Linda McCord, Passenger Manager, Passenger Focus Andrew Allen, Policy Analyst, Campaign for Better Transport

Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for Cambridge:

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, Liberal Democrat Party Daniel Zeichner, Labour Party Chamali Fernando, Conservative Party Rupert Read, Green Party

Panel discussion to feature Labour, Lib Dem, Green and Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for Cambridge and representatives of Network Rail, Passenger Focus and the Campaign for Better Transport.

- Each speaker give an initial talk of around 5 minutes, then there will be over an hour for questions.

- The event aims to raise awareness of rail financing mechanisms and specific party policies and make the debate more informed. —

Every January the moaning about rail fare rises arrives on cue. The frustration is normally directed at politicians. But how many people actually know what the railway spends the money on? Or how much of the costs are covered by subsidy? Or what “premium payments”, “revenue share” or the “Regulatory Asset Base” actually are? All too often, people make claims or proposals which are simply not feasible. While the level of public interest in the railway is valuable, we could develop better solutions by having a more informed debate.

Is the industry functioning as well as it could? Infrastructure manager Network Rail is often criticised within the industry for being bureaucratic and wasteful. Are the structures fit for purpose? Rail “re-nationalisation” is a very popular policy – people seem to think that something is wrong with the railways. Would lower fares require increased subsidy or would the cost largely be paid for by additional passengers? Train companies are selling increasing numbers of booked train only Advance tickets as walk-up fares increase. This is attractive as the cheap fares encourage new travel and smooth peaks and the train companies do not have to share revenue (except the sale commission) – but can this model provide the everyday mobility the country needs? These are some of the questions the industry speakers will tackle.

What solutions can politicians offer? Governments regularly come up with new ideas for restructuring the management of the industry with seemingly little effect. How will the politicians respond to the insights they gain from the rail professionals? Which party has the best and most competent vision for the future? Come along on Friday to find out.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Railway Club series.

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