Dear Jo Stevens,
I have been a Cardiff resident in your constituency for around a year now, and am writing to you regarding my experiences of train price rises across Wales. I have not travelled by train in perhaps more than a year due to the constantly increasing prices, but recently I checked if the next journey I need to make would be worth booking a train for.
To my surprise and honestly at this point, amusement, I saw that a super off-peak open return from London to Cardiff would set me back £89. The same journey starting from Stourbridge, the small town where I grew up in the West Midlands in England, costs £22. I find this rather baffling — Cardiff is a capital city, which I would expect to be more well connected and accessible than a small suburban town. The Welsh government also announced in February of this year that rail prices would be increasing by 3.8%.
Now, I understand that rail price increases are regulated to RPI+1%, however, people’s wages have not increased and yet many of them still have to commute to work. This seems to me to be a rather unsustainable system, seeing as from my time working in public transport (albeit in the West Midlands) commuting appears to be what accounts for most public transport usage. I am therefore wondering what the Welsh Government plans to do to offset or reduce this additional financial pressure on people who are already struggling from one pay day to the next. Whilst I have appreciated the recognition of the cost of living crisis from the Welsh government, I have not seen the amount of practical measures that I was hoping for, and I am concerned for the long-term effect of all these price increases on not just my own budget, but the wider economy.
Added to this, the only way that we will be able to avoid reliance on cars and make both the city of Cardiff and Wales as a whole more green and environmentally friendly, is by encouraging people use public transport. If investing in a car proves to pay for itself in comparison, many people will simply do this instead of using the trains, which will hold us back in the journey we need to be undertaking towards having less pollution and emitting less carbon. By pulling rail travel out of reach for many people (which is what an advance booked £89 super off-peak rail ticket does), we will only push people more into using cars, which we will then have to build infrastructure for in order to accommodate — thereby stripping more green space from our cities and their surrounding areas. Therefore, whilst I am heartened by the many environmental policies of the government here, I do worry that some basic things are being overlooked and will cause these plans as a whole to be less effective than they should be in terms of reaching environmental targets.
I would be really interested to hear what you think should be done on this issue, and as a Cardiff resident I would really appreciate being able to be better connected by train to other cities in the UK. I would also be interested to hear what plans you think should be put in place for making public transport more robust and accessible throughout Wales.