Train companies living in Wonderland

14 January 2015

Southern’s 7.29 from Brighton to London Victoria, where it is due to arrive at 8.35, has been dubbed the ‘Train of Shame’ after being late every day last year. But that is only half the story.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, says: ‘The privatised train operating companies have a unique definition of late. It varies from ToC to ToC, train to train, and service to service, but, basically,a train is only deemed to be late these days if it is more than five minutes late.

‘If it is late, but late by two, three or four minutes, then it is deemed by the train companies not to be late! It is their very own version of Alice in Wonderland – Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass says “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

‘Hundreds of thousands of passengers are being ripped off by the ToCs – paying inflated prices to keep the privatised train companies in profit and their shareholders in clover – and they are fed up with arriving late and being told that the train is not, officially, late. When it is!

‘That’s why many passengers – especially commuters now paying more than £5,000 a year to get to work – will be looking to vote for MPs at the general election who promise to bring the railways in Britain back into public ownership.’


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