The millennial railcard; the answer to all of our problems, or not?
A new railcard has been introduced to offer 26-30 year old millennials discounted rail travel. Discounts that previously only applied to under 25s, most likely to be students and recent graduates, have been extended to those over 25. This age bracket of people have, it is assumed been in a position of full time employment for a few years. This change has been fervently welcomed by many young people who cannot afford the current travel fares, and the Treasury says the new railcard will give 4.5 million more young people discounted travel, so many took to social media to express their happiness at the decision.
The fact that there is such a demand for discounted travel for a group of the public who are supposedly earning a full time wage, and who are expected to start living independently from government loans and their parents, is a crisis in itself. House prices are soaring, use of food banks are increasing, the job market is uncertain and the fate of the economy hangs in the balance, but it’s okay because we can get cheap train tickets! Amongst many other things mentioned in Phillip Hammond’s speech which you can read here, it almost feels like a distraction. Like a parent giving sweets to their child to quieten their cries for something better. Some have argued that this move to introduce a millennial railcard is a last ditch attempt to lure young people back to the Conservative party, as more and more young people seem to be pledging their allegiance to Jeremy Corbyn in recent years, with the term “Corbynistas” even being coined. Lots of young voters feel like the Conservatives have failed them, with only 15% of 18- to 24-year-olds thinking that the Tories represent ‘people like them’.
The rail card offers travellers 1/3 off their ticket price when travelling outside of peak times, so if you travel before 10am and between 4.30-6.30pm like most working millennials, the railcard won’t be of much use at all. Even if you do travel during off peak times, the savings you receive from purchasing the rail card, which is valid for one year, available on an app and costs £30 is not exactly mind-blowing, and definitely will not contribute to anyone’s mortgage savings any time soon. The fact that this comes at a time where millennials have been told to stop buying sandwiches if they want to afford a home, is also ironic.
So although this railcard is a lovely gesture, railcards and packed lunches will not help young people afford homes.