Trending on Twitter yesterday was a hashtag – Traingate
Referring to CCTV coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and his team apparently going past empty seats, to then sit on the floor and make a film about over crowding.
The CCTV footage was released to the media, by Virgin East Coast train company. The Twitter then lit up in its usual dramatic way. Tweets from those who were annoyed that there may have been some sort of deception occurring, tweets from those defending Corbyn and his team. #Traingate appeared and went global. Twitter can do this. We’ve come a long way from telegraph messages, stories can appear immediately and go global within a few seconds.
While people discussed whether there had been empty seats or not, whether it was just a publicity stunt, who was right or who was wrong – what it should have highlighted is the problem with our railway system. Our transport system.
I can remember British Rail, I can remember travelling on British Rail, it wasn’t as dreadful as we are lead to believe. I also remember there being fares for families to have day trips to London, that were actually accessible financially for families. Families could experience travelling cheaply, which means learning by exploring new places, and this educates too, so all round value for society.
But yet again, ideology of the 80s & early 90s had to be inflicted on to society. Privatise, Privatise, Privatise. Privatisation means healthy competition, brings down prices, more efficient ? Right ? – err ?
Well nearly thirty years later. We have a railway system that is expensive ( still heavily subsidised, even more so ), prone to over crowding ( have experienced this myself ). Plus it’s fragmented. Different companies, tickets that cannot be transferable ( as passengers experienced on a Virgin EC on Sunday, who had to pay over double extra, because their tickets could not be transferred, being told ‘it’s a different company’ by the inspector ).
How is this success. It’s not. Plus on top of all this. To add to the farce of privatisation of our railways – two companies had already failed on the East Coast line. Thus East Coast was brought into public ownership and guess what – it wasn’t a failure – it worked – it brought money back to the Treasury – it had great customer satisfaction, the staff were happy. It was a great service. Imagine a publically owned railway that worked – yes – they do work.
But along comes another Conservative Govt, with its ideology – forget common sense – the East Coast must be privatised. And thus it happened, again.
A strike was called off this weekend, but the workers on the newly privatised railway have the threat of job cuts, cuts to pay. The same old story. Profit must be put before people & service.
So what Train gate should highlight are the inherent problems with the privatisation of our railways. And I know there can’t be many people in the UK who have haven’t experienced the overcrowding, or affected by the cost. Who will be thinking the same as I am, let’s find a solution. Because privatisation has proven it’s take us down the wrong track.