HAVE you ever been drinking in a packed pub? I’m sure you must have.
You’ll have fought your way to the bar, which is no doubt thronged six deep.
You’ll have waited for a while before catching the barman or woman’s eye and then put your order in.
And now here’s where it gets complicated.
Have you ever ordered a drink in this situation and then been told there are no glasses so they’re going to have to pour it into your hands – and you’ll have to pay the full price as they’re providing you with the pint you’ve asked for and there’s no guarantee a vessel to drink it from will be available.
You’d tell them where to go surely. It’s preposterous.
Well, keep that ridiculous scenario in your head as we move location.
You’ve got on a train and it’s packed. You fight your way down the aisle and realised there’s nowhere to sit, but you’ve still got to pay full price because it’s the journey you’re paying for not the seat.
See what I did there?
How many of us have said it’s preposterous and stormed off the train. I’d say roughly none of us.
But why is it acceptable?
Two railway-related pieces of news have caught my eye this week.
Number one is the story of how two women fainted on a train between Mirfield and Leeds. One commuter explained how the train had only two carriages instead of the normal three – and that it actually required four carriages.
The story, which was in this august organ, included the quote: “She fainted and another passenger caught her before she fell to the floor. Thankfully she seemed to recover – although she had to sit on the floor as there were no available seats.”
Northern Rail, for it was they who ran the train, said the shortage of carriages could be down to maintenance or repairs and they think they’re better off running a shorter train than cancelling the service.
The spokesman then added they couldn’t put four carriages on as the platform at Cottingley isn’t long enough.
The second piece of news was that there’s to be multi-billion pound improvements to the rail system giving us shorter journey times and increased capacity. By 2019.
But when Justine Greening, who is the Transport Minister, was asked who would pay for it she replied: “We’ve got to get the money from somewhere so, for the time being, the passengers are paying.”
Next year and in 2014 rail fares will go up by inflation plus three percent. You know, more than any pay rise you may be lucky enough to get.
So we’ve got passengers fainting on overcrowded trains which are overcrowded because the train companies haven’t got enough carriages to put spares on.
And even if they did, they couldn’t because the platforms aren’t long enough.
And if you want to make this situation better you’re going to have to fork out for inflation-busting increases which won’t see results for years.
One word on Northern Rail. Last year the company, which got a subsidy of more than £330m from the Department for Transport (ie you and me), reported profits were up 34% to a smidge over £40m.
I’ll let you come to your own conclusions on this one.