Being a student means that money is a huge concern for many of us as we try to juggle our loan to accommodate the student lifestyle as well as the necessities. Travelling home is a key aspect of student life so the fact that we’ve seen train fares rocket over the past few years makes it even harder for us to travel, often making trips home and trips to see friends more difficult.
Despite the strive for independence that us students experience at university for many of us home is a welcome thought with home-cooked meals and radiators (that actually work) offering us a break from the university lifestyle. The fact that it now costs me around £40 for a return to my hometown of Reading makes me question the frequency at which I can go home as I try to make my loan last the term.
Now that this is the case, I can’t just ‘pop home’ and plan spontaneous trips as non-booked ticket prices soar. I should count myself lucky as I know many people are in worse situations where going home cost them in excess of £80. The fares are often creating trade-offs as we now question every expenditure. Going home and visiting friends is seen as an exciting prospect yet train fares often play a huge part in the viability of a journey, sometimes meaning plans need to be altered or cancelled altogether. Social life is a huge part of a student’s life and the fact that this is being hindered is not only annoying but saddening. This is just something that shouldn’t require an assessment as connections with family and friends are vital to my life as I’m sure many will agree. Some will argue that I should have been organised and booked the train way in advance but that is not always viable. Travelling although a great liberty, is now increasingly being seen as a burden with the cost often unreflective of the standard of service.
What makes it worse is that the higher fares are unjustifiable. In the announcement of increased fares, politicians mask up the extent of it by promising a better quality service with trains being more punctual. The truth is, 3 out of the 4 journeys I have made home have been interrupted by cancelled, delayed or diverted, all impacting my journey time and my customer satisfaction. It appears I am not alone as in a recent survey carried out by consumer magazine Which? Found that only 22% of customers are satisfied with the service they are receiving. I can see where that figure came from as packed, delayed and late trains don’t amount to a happy customer.
Perhaps this calls for tighter strings on my purse throughout the year and the reassessment of other expenditures yet no doubt this increase in fares is going to continue through the years, unreflective of the service and the rate of inflation. I guess all we can do about it is try to buy in advance or suffer the pain and moan about it.