Great minds think alike

In today's City AM, I argue that it is right for train fares to rise by 3.4%. Part of my argument is that it is wrong to subsidise rail users who are, on average, better off than other commuters. But I make a further argument. In fact, cutting rail fares may not even help most commuters.

"If fares were to fall on the Brighton Main Line then I may consider commuting from Hove, but landlords would anticipate this and raise rents. Homeowners and landlords in commuter towns may welcome the windfall, but it is hardly reasonable to expect taxpayers to pay for it."

On Twitter, Tom Papworth (author of The Green Noose) points out that I am far from the only person to make this argument. Winston Churchill in 1909 wrote:

"Some years ago in London there was a toll bar on a bridge across the Thames, and all the working people who lived on the south side of the river had to pay a daily toll of one penny for going and returning from their work. The spectacle of these poor people thus mulcted of so large a proportion of their earnings offended the public con-science, and agitation was set on foot, municipal authorities were roused, and at the cost of the taxpayers, the bridge was freed and the toll removed. All those people who used the bridge were saved sixpence a week, but within a very short time rents on the south side of the river were found to have risen about sixpence a week, or the amount of the toll which had been remitted!"

Great minds eh...