The Great Train Robbery

According to Auntie Beeb, British rail travellers generally get a poorer deal compared to Europe. Does the pope shit in the woods?!? Anyone who uses the rail system on more than the occasional forray would know this. Living 20 miles away from Edinburgh, the city I work in, means that I am quite dependent on the train system for getting to and from work, especially now my wife is housebound on maternity leave.

In the 6 or so years since we moved out of the city the cost of rail travel has risen whilst the quality and reliability of the service has deteriorated. According to the beeb, on average rail fares were 50% higher in Britain than in Europe and “88% more expensive than the next most expensive country – France”.

A return ticket for a thirteen minute train ride to and back from Edinburgh during peak hours (ie standing room only) is now £8.10. Eight pounds ten pence!!! How are these fares calculated? My original suspicions were monkeys with abacuses with cockrail Scotrail scrimping on the Bananas but then I discovered the fabled rail fare calculator.

Alas, I cannot reveal my sources but I can divulge the mystical equation, thus:

£ = (α ρ) x (α δ^-1) x (α κ^-1)

where £ denotes the cost of ticket, ρ the density/popularity of the service, δ the distance travelled and κ the reliability/quality of the service in question. For those less algebric than the cockrail Scotrail monkeys this equates to cost being the sum of denisty of service multiplied by the inverse proportion of distance travelled multiplied by the inverse proportion of reliability of service1. This golden ratio (not that one) basically means that no matter where you are travelling cockrail Scotrail will shaft you!

1 of course, don;t blame me for the shocking paucity of this formula, blame the cockrail Scotrail monkeys


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