Recently I saw some great news for rail passengers and staff! A press release from the Rail Safety and Standards Board Limited stated that it is 10 years since a passenger died on the railways. However, during the same period, 5 people died on Britain’s roads every day. This equates to a terrible 18,250 deaths. Car accidents injured many more people. The economy suffers through people being off work due to road related accidents. Currently this is estimated at £8bn per year.
Cars cost the NHS money
Road accidents cost to the NHS an estimated £470m per year. If car travel was reduced and journeys made by train instead, some of this money and resources could be directed to other areas of medical care. Emergency staff would not be attending so many car accidents and would be freed up to assist other patients. How many times are patients waiting to go into surgery affected by a sudden need for medical resources to be redirected to deal urgent accident injuries?
I’d go so far as to say travelling by train is healthier than using the car! Passengers might walk to a railway station to catch a train for a journey and they often walk from the station to their destinations. Car travel can be stressful especially for the driver. How much more relaxing is it to read a book or enjoy a meal on the train? Let’s save lives and reduce the strain on the NHS by expanding the rail network to offer safer journey opportunities.
What about the cost of potholes?
Potholes are predicted to cost £14bn to repair over the next two years. Roads currently have high volumes of traffic which was never expected or considered when they were built. Let me get one thing straight – I’m not against the car. I’m against over use of cars and the fact that successive governments don’t take into account the true cost of car usage compared to railway journeys.
Let the train take the strain!
Railways were initially built for goods not passengers. Goods traffic was then moved to the roads and the railway became uneconomic. When there is a call for reopening a railway line, the same old outdated arguments are preferred:- “Nobody was using the branch line the time”. “It will cost a fortune to reopen a closed railway line”. Well I’m afraid society and peoples propensity to travel has moved on since such rhetoric.
There IS an economic cases to reopen lines. I continually hear people say that rail travel is expensive compared to road travel. The true cost of travel goes beyond the cost of fares or petrol. Taxes also reflect the cost of travel. If we can reduce traffic on the roads and thus reduce accidents, insurance premiums would go down. Combined with the other factors I’ve mentioned leads me to conclude that railways are not expensive. They probably cost less than roads overall.
People want to travel by train
The rail network today is half the size of that pre-Beaching yet there are more people travelling by train than ever in its history. Clearly huge numbers of people have opted to travel by rail which is a far safer mode of transport than the car will ever be. Economic cases to reopen railway lines predicts rail usage. Often the reality far exceeds predictions. Instances passenger volumes on re-opened lines have exceed ten times more than predicted. The Borders railway, re-opened in 2015, Tweedbank’s six-month passenger total was 183,918 and Galashiels’ was 104,593, well up on their projected figures of 18,978 and 20,567 respectively. The present mystic approach used to calculate predicted passenger numbers must surely be affecting the business case for opening of lines.
For the reasons outlined, I don’t agree with the misguided view that travelling by car is less expensive than rail. We should be promoting rail travel as a way to save money overall and let the train take the strain.
Do you agree with me?