Don’t let Andy Burnham fool you. In his latest research into the state of transport in Manchester, the city where he is mayor, he targets the price of a return train ticket to London at £369, which he says is more than the cost of return flight from Manchester. to Africa (£319). It’s dishonest. The cheapest return fare by train from Manchester to London is £25 and, along with concert tickets, insurance prices and broadband packages, depending on when and what levels of service you require, you may end up paying more or less – it’s yield management, a pricing mechanism – but it looks like Andy Burnham seems to want us to believe it’s an intentional system designed to put Londoners first and punish the North.
Usually via Twitter, Mr Burnham suggests it’s unfair for London to benefit from the Elizabeth Line (aka Crossrail), High Speed 2 and further integration of our fares and ticketing system, but Manchester will not have or has no prospect of an equivalent. To me, that makes no sense. Politically, London is a Labour-voting city, as is Manchester, with a Labor mayor presiding over the transport authority (TfL). Presenting TfL’s work as an unfair gaming system is therefore an affront to Sadiq Khan’s supposed ally, as ultimately Londoners hold him responsible and rightly so. When Mr Burnham aims for London, he aims for work.
Indeed, for all Mr Khan’s faults, he tried to secure billions of pounds for TfL in complicated funding negotiations, not just to keep the city moving, but to improve it, narrowly avoiding the bankruptcy. He even made several trips outside of London to highlight how this funding supports a national ecosystem of jobs and innovation.
READ MORE:We tried to settle the London vs Manchester debate once and for all
TfL is far from healthy. He has a £1.9billion financial hole, he looks likely to cut up to a fifth of all buses and a tenth of all Tube services and yet Mr Burnham still refers to his demands for a “London-style transport system”. London’s current transport system is in jeopardy, so this really does look like outright London-bashing. I would like to demonstrate this using a few of Mr. Burnham’s tweets. I don’t think it’s as simple as Mr. Burnham suggests.
This Easter weekend, MyLondon reported in detail how TfL and Network Rail have closed several major parts of London’s transport network, causing major inconvenience due to inevitable work to replace aging infrastructure. London has the world’s oldest underground and some of the oldest railway lines, but instead of Mr Burnham asking Manchester to have the world’s newest and biggest public transport network, he is throwing London under the bus to castigate the government.
Manchester trams finish at midnight, London trams finish at 1am, not exactly a slam dunk I would say. London has a reduced night tube service and night buses (like Manchester) although the subsidies it receives for them have fallen from £700m to zero under George Osborne so I’m not sure what what “always had” means. Things in London are getting worse for buses and trams, not better. Mr Khan might have called on the Tories to stop bashing London earlier this year, but perhaps he should also give Mr Burnham a quick bell.
If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t have needed to tweet this to clarify his position. Andy Burnham should quit because it’s not helping us, if his own political party cares, all Londoners should be. We all want better transportation in our cities. Remember that in October 2021 Manchester received £1.07 billion from the government to improve its public transport. London got zero pounds and zero pence. There’s no point in campaigning for a London-like transport network if London can’t even have a London-like network, because by that logic you weaken your base case scenario.
In London the off-peak daily cap for Zone 1-6 is £14.10 (was £13.50 at time of tweet) meaning in London it can easily cost £11 to get to from one side of town to the other. Personally, I spent £14.50 to cross the city to Heathrow, with an advance ticket and a train pass discount. From central Manchester to the airport by train the fare is £5.90. Granted, many journeys through Manchester are by bus, but as London’s bus network has to cover twice the distance geographically, it’s not comparable as even a bus enthusiast like me wouldn’t force himself to do from Cockfosters to Croydon.
I’ll stop there, as there are plenty of mentions of London in Mr Burnham’s tweets – 42 times since this time last year that I can see. As a transport journalist, I myself share many of Mr Burnham’s criticisms of the transport industry, but when he repeatedly refers to London as London transport journalist I can’t help but feel insulted. Going back to today’s tweet about rail fares and yield management, why did Mr Burnham even need to mention London? The £369 fare he captured is for a 366 mile round trip, or around £1 per mile. In Manchester there are a host of train tickets which also cost around £1 per mile which he could have used just as easily. I see it as an attack on the greatest city in the world, London.
I can certainly understand Mr Burnham’s frustration that the North has seen severe underinvestment in transport, but that has nothing to do with London. For our own good, as the capital is now in danger of losing everything it once had, I think it is the best thing if Mr Burnham had nothing to do with London too.
Want more MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from London here.
We’ve created a Facebook group for people who travel on London’s bus, rail, tube, tube and DLR services.
We’ll keep you up to date with the latest news that affects your daily commute to work, as well as the weekend.
We’ll also let you know in advance if there are any road works, rail works or closures you should be aware of, or if there are any issues on the city’s subway network.
Join the group here.