Tuesday, 15 May 2007

If there's a transport policy for Wales, it's come off the rails

Almost every day brings a fresh example of the myriad ways in which New Labour’s Islington-centric approach to policy conflicts with Welsh interests. Take, for example, yesterday’s announcement of fare increases by Arriva Trains Wales, which will make it cheaper to travel to London from North Wales than to Cardiff.

Rather than bring North and South Wales closer together, which is what needs to be achieved, this profit-motivated move by a multinational corporation with no interest in the needs of Welsh society and operating a monopoly in a barely regulated market, will widen the divide by significantly increasing the cost of mobility.

Arriva has deftly introduced a 34% increase in some fares by removing SuperSaver tickets, meaning that it’s no longer possible to turn up at a station and buy a cheap ticket. For that, you need a computer and an Internet account with the train company, common currency in Islington but rather less convenient for people in the Gogledd.

We still have a choice, of course. New Labour is nothing if it’s not about choice. We can use the A470, assuming we have a car. But as with all the other policy areas New Labour has failed to think through properly - Iraq, education, the NHS, immigration, you name it – this choice will hinder its policy of reducing carbon emissions by 20% before 2010.

The Assembly, needless to say, is powerless to intervene in Welsh transport issues. Transport policy is monopolised by Westminster where every decision is based either on taxation potential or cost saving, irrespective of the damage done to social cohesion elsewhere. SuperSaver tickets, in case you didn’t know, are unregulated.

Once Wales finally becomes just a large holiday cottage theme park owned by typical New Labour voters who need a country retreat from the stresses of living in places like Islington, nobody will need a railway service between Bangor and Cardiff anyway.

And they’ll be able to save on the costs of schools, hospitals and post offices too. Come to think of it, they won’t need a Welsh Assembly either.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you have a complaint about Arriva, please visit http://www.railvoice.co.uk You can then post complete details of your complaint and it will be forwarded to Arriva.