Remember Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘traingate’? Well it may just have inspired the Tories to act

Corbyn Rail Traingate
Support us and go ad-free

It looks like the Conservative government may have drawn inspiration from Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘traingate’ saga last year. Or possibly not. But either way, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a rather bold move regarding rail travel; especially for a Tory-led government.

No more sardines?

Grayling has announced that new rail franchises will be required to abolish first class carriages on busy suburban routes. The government hopes it will free up space on busy commuter routes, as figures show that overcrowding [pdf p6] on trains at rush hour in 2015 was 3.8%. It was worse in London, with overcrowding [pdf p6] at 5.8% in the morning rush hour, and 2.8% in the evening. Passengers faced the most [pdf p6] overcrowding at Blackfriars station in the morning, at nearly 15%.

Traingate: revisited

The problems with rail overcrowding, especially the class divisions, were highlighted by Corbyn in August 2016. The Labour leader was forced to stand on part of a Virgin Trains journey, as there were no free seats next to each other in standard class. He eventually was given seats, but the media storm surrounding it became the story itself.

The press were accused of manipulating the story to make Corbyn look bad, and using it to bury other bad news. Also, the story prompted a backlash by angry passengers against Richard Branson and Virgin Trains.

Cold comfort?

So, it’s almost as if the Transport Secretary has ‘traingate’ in mind when taking this decision. He told [paywall] The Telegraph:

I absolutely understand what a total pain it is if you are standing on a train for 20-30 minutes on the way to work. I don’t really see a case for a non-longer distance journey for there to be any division between first and second class. There should just be one class on the train.

But the government’s announcement may be cold comfort to most rail passengers. Because the UK rail network is still in a perpetual state of chaos:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free
  • Regulated fares went up by 1.9% in January. They have increased by 56% in the past decade; meaning commuters may now pay up to 14% of their wages on travel. In Germany, France and Spain this figure is 2%-4%.
  • Train punctuality in 2016 was the worst in a decade. One in every 10 trains was late.
  • Passenger satisfaction with how railway operators handle complaints has not improved in a decade.
  • A passenger group is currently taking the government to court over the Southern Rail crisis.
  • The past year has been hit by numerous rail strikes.
  • Disabled people are currently fighting the government over inadequate rail access.

The partial abolition of first class carriages is a welcome move. But, in the grand scheme of things, it is a token measure against a backdrop of a dilapidated and floundering UK rail network. If the measure of privatisation’s success was train services in Britain, then it has been an absolute failure. The call for re-nationalisation of our rail network should be stronger than ever.

Get Involved!

Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via YouTube 

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed