Kate Simon: Why do they make saving the planet such hard work?

As usual, January spells bad news for rail passengers as leisure travellers wonder why choosing the energy-efficient route will now cost up to 15 per cent more. And, as always, the train companies have been quick to defend themselves, saying that the average rise on fares is just 1.1 per cent, and stressing that cheap tickets are available if you look carefully, with bargain-basement prices, such as £12 one-way from London to Edinburgh, on offer if you make an advance booking.

Indeed, a friend reports that after being stung for £26 for a walk-on single from London to Brighton, she has now discovered she can make the journey for as little as £3 each way, at convenient times, with a little prior preparation on the internet. But why should it require any effort to buy rail tickets at prices that would encourage more of us back on to the trains? And what justification is there for train fares in the UK being the highest in the world? Carbon-friendly railways will never be a major weapon against climate change while profit remains the top priority of rail companies and making us pay for privatisation is the main aim of the Government.

Better news on public transport comes from the London Cycle Scheme, a long overdue initiative from Transport for London that will launch this summer. Some 6,000 bikes will be available for hire at convenient locations around the city centre for an on-the-spot registration fee of £1, plus variable payments for the amount of time you actually use the bike.

Let's hope London doesn't suffer the same troubles experienced in Barcelona, which has had a similar project in operation since 2007 – albeit shamefully designed to actively discourage tourists from using it, a situation reportedly due to pressure from the city's private bike hire companies.

One of the biggest problems facing the Catalan capital's "Bicing" fleet is vandalism and theft, even though the bikes are clearly identifiable with their red and white design and signature cumbersome rear mudguard.

So what is TfL doing to ensure that London's scheme doesn't come a cropper? "We've looked at the experiences of the many successful cycle hire schemes from around the world and have the advantage of being able to take those into account when delivering London's scheme," a spokesperson tells me.

"There is always a risk of vandalism or theft in public schemes of this type. However, TfL and our operator, Serco, will share the cost of this risk in the contract we've agreed, so both parties have an incentive to minimise issues of this nature."

TfL might be advised to bring similar commonsense to bear on its Oyster travel-card system. While adults can get this cost-cutting card over the counter, children aged 11 to 15 must register for the young person's version – a Zip photocard – to gain free bus and tram travel and discounts on the Tube, DLR, London overground and National Rail services within greater London.

If you're visiting from outside the capital, however, you must apply online three weeks in advance to ensure the card is delivered before your journey. Take heed if you're heading for The Smoke with the family because, as far as I know, TfL has no plans to change the system.

Have you got a travel issue you want to raise? Contact sunday travel@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral