Commuting, comfortable? Are you mad?

Claire Perry, UK rail minister

‘What we have got to do is to make sure rail passengers – who could be forgiven for saying: “What on earth am I getting for these rises that I’ve seen over the last decade?” – start to realise they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.’ – Claire Perry, UK rail minister

A shocking statement from an obviously privileged person. Commuting is not comfortable in the UK unless you travel in the First Class train carriages. I paid for First Class tickets for the first time ever for my trip to LonCon3 and I was staggered by the difference in service.

I paid an extra £2 to London Midland on my outward journey to London at peak time in First Class, just to guarantee myself a seat on the train. In hot and sweaty cattle class I’d have been lucky to even have enough space to stand without touching anyone or falling over. I usually travel off-peak but even then it wasn’t unusual for me to stand for the whole journey because there weren’t enough seats available for everyone.

On the return trip I paid quite a bit more to Virgin Trains for a First Class ticket and I was both shocked and overjoyed at the service I received. Use of free lounges where you could sit and rest while waiting for your train at the station which gave you access to free newspapers, magazines and drinks. On the train there was ample leg room, tables for two and four, and a free meal (it was morning so it was breakfast, I chose scrambled eggs on toast), a free hot beverage and free juice. My travel time on the train was only 30 minutes but it was a wonderfully comfortable and enjoyable journey.

Price rises are unacceptable in these tough financial times. An inflation-busting 5.5% increase on already rip-off prices is disgusting. We’re pricing working people out of their jobs. We have the highest rail fares in Europe and yet we receive the worst service. How is this right?

UK and europe rail fares comparison for 100 - 150 miles

My guess is that this rail minister has either never travelled on a train or has only ever ridden in First Class. To say that commuting is comfortable for the majority is the most absurd and out-of-touch statement I’ve heard in a while.

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