One must applaud the campaigners outside Watford station complaining about the latest rail fare rises (Anger at the great train fare rip off, Observer, January 4). The claim by the MP that HS2 will make a big difference to train travel to London is wholly irrelevant, the complaints now are about excessive fare rises. If one believes both in fairies and the 2020 completion date for HS2 that’s fine, but it will have zero impact on the issue, rising fares! Indeed the mega costs associated with HS2 are frequently given nationwide to reject sensible local rail improvements costing tiny sums. When there is an eventual overspend post 2020 on HS2 all rail users will be told that the fare rises are to pay for the extra spend and improvements nationwide.

READ MORE: Rail fares increase by 3.1 per cent as punctuality at 13-year low

In the UK civil engineering projects rarely come cheap or on time. HS2 will be no exception. You need look no further than the Metropolitan Line Extension bringing trains across a couple of roundabout to reach the Junction, upwards of £100 million was spent to produce ever increasing end costs and nothing at the end to show for the millions in effect squandered. The total went up like Topsy. A couple more years and it could have overtaken the China moon landing. Who in all sanity needs to spend £100 million to prove £350 million is way too expensive? It is the economics of the mad house, a typical UK civil engineering racket!

The Observer report also mentioned as justification for higher rail fares the official assertion that non rail users ought not have to contribute to keeping ticket prices down. I wonder if this heralds a return to the Ship Tax, which was levied only on coastal towns to pay the navy for protection; fortunately it was abolished in 1640. But its ghost lives on in the DfT!

The same rationale seems to have overwhelmed the media recently when the public at large seem to be urged to support free parking on demand at all hospitals paid from where else but general taxation. If rail users alone must pay for their train travel, why should non-car users, nearly half the population in London, pay for car parking provision in hospitals?

Leslie Freitag

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