YEP Says, August 18: Paying too much for a second-rate rail service

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THE GOVERNMENT’S latest promise to cap the annual increase in rail fares is unlikely to appease commuters whose travel costs have risen nearly three times faster than wages over the past five years – they find themselves paying for the privilege of standing on an overcrowded train because investment has failed to keep pace with the increased public demand for the railways.

THE GOVERNMENT’S latest promise to cap the annual increase in rail fares is unlikely to appease commuters whose travel costs have risen nearly three times faster than wages over the past five years – they find themselves paying for the privilege of standing on an overcrowded train because investment has failed to keep pace with the increased public demand for the railways.

Even though commuters continue to pay considerably more for tickets than their counterparts in Europe, their needs have frequently been secondary to the inflated salaries that continue to be paid to senior executives within the railway industry while the recent decision to “pause” the electrification of the TransPennine Express and Midland Mainline has angered many. In case it has escaped the attention of Ministers, the railways are a public service – train operating companies and Network Rail continue to receive huge subsidies from the taxpayer – and this needs to be reflected in future cision-making. After all, the railways remain critical to the implementation of George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse vision – and the Government’s desire for people across this region to obtain better career opportunities as part of its One Nation agenda. However this will not happen if people of modest means are priced off the railways by a fares structure that penalises the aspirational.

Flagship store a welcome boost to Leeds

EVEN BEFORE the first customers have been welcomed to its new flagship store, the John Lewis effect is already being felt in Leeds with confirmation that the city is to be home to a state-of-the-art distribution depot that will employ more than 65 people. The store’s official opening next year, as part of the long-awaited Victoria Gate development, will help to re-enforce the reputation of Leeds still further as the country’s pre-eminent shopping destination outside London. The one surprise is that it has taken so long for John Lewis to embrace Leeds – and vice-versa. The new store, and supply chain, will be a “win, win” for both in 2016.

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