Long-Suffering St Albans Rail Commuters Squeezed Yet Again

I see that First Capital Connect has decided to replace the previously free bank-branded automated teller machines (ATMs) at St Albans City Station with anonymous machines incurring a fee. There seems to be no depth to which First Capital Connect will not stoop in their desperation to screw money out of the travelling public.  First it was off-peak fares and car park charges, now it is something as petty as hole-in-the-wall cash machines.  Presumably FCC stands to get a percentage of the fee whenever the machines are used.

It is the Labour government which has created this money-grabbing environment by demanding such a massive “premium” from First Capital Connect for the franchise.  They are having to pay £800 million to the Chancellor as a "premium" to run our train service.  Premium is simply a fancy word for tax.

It is a government with curious environmental priorities which takes over £800 million out of the most important single form of sustainable transport while refusing to charge the aviation industry the full amount of its cost to the environment. The outcome is all too logical. 

First Capital Connect is committed to a mere £50 million of capital investment over the period of the franchise, one sixteenth of the money it is taking out of passenger fares to pay Gordon Brown.  No wonder the rolling stock looks so drab and inadequate. And FCC continues to heap a series of petty indignities on travellers of which this is merely the latest example. If only they coud spend half as much time running a proper rail service with seats and timetables that mean something.

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