It\’s an amazing rant. He seems not to have realised that rail travel is, by passenger numbers, vastly up. But this is the truly silly part:
Even the comparatively straightforward “saver returns”, of which there are about 900 kinds, will leave you in trouble if you wish to alter your return time. You can’t upgrade, you’ll have to buy yourself a whole new open ticket. I travelled by train in Poland recently and asked for a ticket between two cities: I was told the price (which was about one-tenth of the price for a similar rail journey in Britain) – but then felt moved to bombard the poor counter clerk with subsidiary questions. Was this the cheapest ticket? Were there restrictions on it? How long did it last?
The Pole looked at me in utter bewilderment. “It’s just a return ticket to Krakow, sir,” he said, “they all cost the same. Why wouldn’t they?” You get conditioned to the rules of the asylum, after a while, you see.
These aren\’t the rules of the asylum at all: they\’re the only economically rational ones. If you\’ve got a system with huge overhead and fixed costs and nearly zero marginal ones (the cost of one extra passenger on a train, up to the limit of capacity, is somewhere between very little indeed and nothing) then you ought to be slicing and dicing the pricing structure. That way you can influence people to spread their travel over time, and thus increase the total load carried.
What\’s even more is that he praises the airlines for their prices…..and airlines are much greater users of this price discrimination system than the railways are. Sigh.