Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Airlines profiteering? Surely not!

Posted in Business, Europe, Great Britain, High Speed, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 26 April 2012

As the sound of Gary Neville’s “goalgasm” fades, and Chelsea look forward to their date with destiny following their heroics in the Nou Camp, the thoughts of thousands of Blues fans have no doubt turned to the prospect of getting to Munich – how to get there, and how much it will cost. It was with interest therefore that I noted a story in yesterday’s Evening Standard. Doubtless there will be some who will have the idea of clubbing together with a load of mates and hiring a minibus. Well, that’s fine, but it’ll take a shitload of time. The obvious answer is to fly, as Munich is a big city, and has relatively good connections to the UK, with both British Airways and Lufthansa, as well as Easyjet, flying directly to Munich Airport. However, never let it be said that airlines don’t take advantage of an opportunity to fleece a load of people that have somewhere they desperately want/need to be at a very specific time. British Airways have announced prices for flights around the time of the Champions League final of around £700, while apparently Easyjet are offering £800. Even Ryanair, whose hub for Munich isn’t Munich Airport, but Memmingen Airport (which is 110km from the centre of Munich) are offering flights for £470 – the weekend before they’re offering the same flights for £32. People will doubtless pay, but there is an alternative. Fly somewhere else, and then get on the ICE, which, at least as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is a shedload cheaper than the £700 BA will take from you. Of course, it will take longer (the train from Hamburg-Altona to Munich takes around 6 hours), but as I’ve often said, you pay for time, and if you’re unconcerned about the time you actually get there, as I would assume most people will make their way the day before and home the days after the game, then it could well be a winner.

“Ryanair Hikes Fares for Chelsea Fans’ Trip to Soccer Final”

The profiteering leprechaun strikes again

Speaking of high speed trains, there was something else I noticed in yesterday’s paper, this time (as is often the case) on the letters page. Or, more specifically, the “text your ranting in and we’ll print it” section. As it’s short, I’ll quote verbatim:

If Chiltern Railways can operate a 100 minute service between Marylebone and Birmingham, what is the point of spending £30 billion on HS2?
John Benjamin

Once again, Joe Public (or in this case John Benjamin) misses the point. Birmingham was not, is not and never will be the ultimate destination of HS2. It’s intention is to allow faster travel to London from various points in the north. But, perhaps even more importantly, it is intended to increase capacity so that more interurban (as opposed to intercity) trains can run. This will start off allowing more capacity on the southern section of the WCML by removing express trains. This idea will be extended further northwards when Phase 2 is built. The idea is being able to put more trains onto the existing network, as well as letting express trains get to their destinations faster. Surely this is something that the government should be putting right at the top of its publicity. It isn’t that hard a concept to get one’s head around after all.

Chiltern Railways do offer an excellent 100 minute service from London to Birmingham. But the point of HS2 is to increase capacity on the WCML, amongst other things

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