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Fares, Rural Areas

Volume 388: debated on Wednesday 7 April 1943

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32.

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport whether, in rural areas where connection with the neighbouring market town is both by omnibus and by rail, he will ensure that railway fares are reduced to the level of omnibus fares so as to encourage the public to use the railway and relieve pressure on the omnibuses?

The adjustment of railway fares which my hon. Friend proposes would involve a number of difficulties. Omnibus fares are laid down and authorised for individual services and are designed to meet local conditions; there are considerable variations throughout the country, not only in the basis of fares, but also in the types of tickets issued and the conditions governing their use. Railway fares are based on standard scales of general application, while the types of tickets and the conditions governing their use are uniform; local adjustments would, therefore, create serious anomalies as between different parts of the railway system. Moreover, road and rail routes often differ in distance, in the places which they serve and in the points from which fares operate. For these reasons, I regret that I do not think it would be practicable to adopt my hon. Friend's proposal.

Does my hon. Friend realise that there are often cases where a reduction in the rail fare would relieve the 'buses of very serious congestion? Cannot he do something about this matter?

I fully sympathise with the hon. Member's purpose and I agree that if it could be done without creating other difficulties, such reductions might be desirable, but the other difficulties are very formidable.

Is my hon. Friend aware that this is a very important problem and that where he has raised the rail fares by 60 per cent. in my area, he has driven people from the trains to the 'buses?

There is a special problem in that area to which my hon. Friend knows I am giving special consideration.