Compared to most other European, the UK’s trains are a bit of a joke … and an expensive one. In an age where all countries should be investing in public transport infrastructure, staff, technology and future expansion, the UK is seriously lagging behind. Like the US, the UK seems determined to focus on environmentally aware transport more in terms of personal technology – individual electric vehicles – rather than public networks for mass transport. Despite the Government’s expressed commitment to ensure the UK’s railways are all carbon-free by 2050, there seems to be insufficient current action to set the necessary steps in motion.
This month the rail strike has brought the industry to the forefront of the news and peoples’ opinions. A recent Mori poll found that the majority of the UK public are in favour of the rail strike and it’s aims, but of course the fact that is has seriously inconvenienced many thousands of commuters, and lost other businesses precious income after two year’s of very challenging conditions, has caused outrage and despair in other quarters.
The strike comes at a time when the cost of living is soaring, and it hasn’t escaped notice that more pro-public transport countries have used their networks to help their citizens. Germany recently massively discounted all public travel in an attempt to boost its usage, but mainly to give financial relief to its people. For just 9 Euros a month, Germans can enjoy unlimited journeys on all forms of city and rural transport – buses, trains and trams. The message is leave the car at home, save money, and continue to live as normal, whether that may be work or leisure travel. Just imagine for a moment what benefit a similar scheme would offer the British public.
The strike could be interpreted as a litmus test on the Government’s real attitude to the rail network, from which it appears they are failing in their promises to invest and secure rail as a green, yet feasible and workable, mass transport essential for the future. Investment and support are needed now if the environmental goals are ever to be reached.