I see that lots of people are – unsurprisingly – complaining about the service (or, rather, the lack of any reliable service whatsoever) on our trains. One of the answers, surely, would be to bring the railways back into public ownership, so that all our fares and all the subsidies are spent on providing the train service, instead of a significant proportion being syphoned off into the coffers of the train companies, to be passed on as dividends to their shareholders. I have no argument with capitalism in principle – indeed, my pensions depend upon the profits made by capitalist companies – but in a monopoly situation, when there is no competition and therefore the ‘service’ provider has no incentive to provide a proper service, the only effective solution is public ownership and public control.
Meanwhile, I should like to draw attention to the website ‘BlaBlaCar’ (www.blablacar.co.uk), a car-sharing facility, through which those people who have given up on the trains can find car drivers offering lifts to the destinations they want.
I am one of those who have given up using trains, and, through this website, I offer places in my car whenever I am driving to London or elsewhere. Passengers pay a modest contribution towards the cost of the petrol, which is usually less than the train fare would have been, and they are guaranteed a comfortable seat on which no dirty shoes have been rested, and an environment that is not polluted by the smell of hot, greasy food (or, in my case, by poisonous tobacco smoke).
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