On 13 March, the Conservative government launched its ‘millennial railcard’. Announced during the autumn budget, the railcard is for those aged between 26 and 30.
The Conservatives got a bit of a shock during the 2017 general election. The party thought it could ignore young people, who’ve long been ignored and regarded as ambivalent and apathetic to parliamentary politics. Until they voted. In numbers. For Labour. So the Conservatives thought they’d better do something to woo them back.
In response, the Conservative Party launched the ‘millennial railcard’. Chancellor Philip Hammond said the railcard would give:
4.5 million more young people a third off their rail fares
But it didn’t exactly go to plan.
To start with, the government decided to ‘trial’ the railcard by only issuing 10,000 of them. Hardly the 4.5 million Hammond claimed it would help. Unsurprisingly, this led to increased demand. And the website crashed.
People were not impressed:
Phillip Hammond, last year. 26-30 railcard will help 4.5m save money on fares by Spring.
Spring 2018: We're only going to sell 10,000 26-30 railcards, and the website isn't gonna work. #railcard
— Simon Meechan (@SimonMeechan_90) March 13, 2018
I spend about £100 on train tickets a week. This 26-30 #railcard could save me £1000's. When it was announced, I built it into my yearly budget – it makes a huge difference! And then they let everyone down by only 'trialing' 10,000 and letting the buying system crash #railcard
— Catherine Allen (@_CatherineAllen) March 13, 2018
Others had ideas of how the limited number could be rolled out into other areas:
The next time MPs are due to have a pay rise, could we have a national trial where only 1 in 500 (i.e. 1 MP) gets it. Would be fun to watch them compete. And maybe make the website where you apply for it crash repeatedly? #railcard #justanidea
— John Vivian (@jtothevizzle) March 13, 2018
Further people saw it is an a damning indictment of the government:
Fair play to the Government for managing to fuck up their already shitty appeasement so badly. Takes a special kind of ineptitude to simultaneously piss off upwards of 5 million people. #Railcard
— The Artist formally known as Kevin (@UkuleleKev) March 13, 2018
A sticking plaster
The railcard was only ever a sticking plaster – a nod to the generation that the Conservatives ignored. And gaining a third off train journeys was never going to compensate for those who are saddled with massive student debt, are on zero-hours contracts, or have been priced out of the housing market.
But a railcard? Surely even the Conservatives could launch a railcard without it turning into an unmitigated disaster? Apparently even this was beyond them. And it has to make us all wonder if they could even organise a piss up in a brewery.
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