Let's get back on track and make trains affordable

SADLY, I can't remember a time before Margaret Thatcher.

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I was born when she was in power and was in the pram taking part in protests before I could even walk.

But decades later, I'm still living with her legacy.

Apart from the milk snatching and the poll tax - both of which I take very personally - Thatcher led the privatisation of nationalised industries.

As a frequent user of planes, trains and buses I am particularly upset by the privatisation of public transport. I was surprised to learn that the privatisation of British Rail, which led to Scotrail forming a separate franchise, took place in the early 90s - only about 20 years ago - under John Major's Government.

That makes me wonder if there's still time to go back and change it. And while we're at it, can we get the Royal Mail back too?

It seems to me that the privatisation of rail travel has a lot to answer for when it comes to ticket prices going up all the time. Why does this keep happening?

We reported this week how 60% of all train journeys in Scotland would see increased fare prices.

Apparently, the 2.5% price hike on peak fares, which will come into force in January, is down to the Retail Prices Index inflation figure.

Off-peak fares are staying same at the moment but that doesn't really help matters if you're travelling to work at peak times.

Why do you have to pay more when you're less likely to get a seat and usually end up squished against someone's armpit?

Granted, we're doing better here than down south where they're facing even higher increases, but I'd like to see all prices frozen, especially when many people have not seen a wage increase for years.

As if going back to work after Christmas wasn't depressing enough, we have ticket price hikes to look forward to every year.

Our rail fares are some of the highest in Europe.

I find this frustrating because rail travel is my favourite form of transport and it should be affordable.

Unlike flying, rail journeys don't have the drama at the airport - there's no check-in because you can hop on seconds before the train leaves.

There isn't the clammy atmosphere and zero daylight that you get on the subway. There are no traffic jams, crazy drivers to contend with or bus stops every two minutes.

Scotland is home to some of the best train journeys in the world. What about the West Highland line from Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig?

Rail journeys shape our lives; apart from commuting, we all remember trips with friends when we've had a drink and a laugh.

But that's only if I can afford to get on the train in the first place. It's time to get the country back on track by keeping the cost of rail travel down.


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