Derailed 96

Regular readers know I love railways and am constantly on the move by train. They also know that I am constantly furious at the mess left by rail privatisation, with the most expensive rail fares in the world, plus massive taxpayer subsidies, leaving huge profits for private shareholders of operating companies on “can’t lose”, taxpayer underwritten deals.

I calculated that my “super off peak return” ticket from Ramsgate to Newark, bought yesterday for £83.70, costs over 20p a mile. I contemplated yesterday afternoon posting about what an incredibly large charge that is for train travel compared to other countries. I was going to invite people to give examples of per mile cost on other tickets in the UK and elsewhere.

I then reflected that few of my long-suffering readers find my railway postings as interesting as I do, and decided not to inflict it on you.

Then this morning I went to catch the 8.37 from Newark, which gets in to London at 10.02. I am on it now. But I was informed that, whereas on South Eastern services from Ramsgate an off-peak service is one which gets into London after 10.00, on East Coast services an off-peak service is one which departs from wherever you catch it after 10.00. So the same train is not an off-peak service at one point in its journey, but becomes off-peak later on.

The first “Off-peak” service from Newark does not get into London until 11.35.

I reluctantly therefore asked to upgrade my “off-peak” ticket so I could get the 8.37. I was told this would cost £94.20!! However, the lady added helpfully, I could just buy a single to London for £74.50 and then use my off-peak ticket from London to Ramsgate.

This I have done. So my return journey from Ramsgate to Newark is costing me just shy of £160. It would be a lot cheaper to drive – in a Chelsea tractor.

You may recall I posted some time ago that when making a journey from Truro to York, the Virgin train from Truro was severely late, causing me to miss my advance purchased train to York. While I had shown my tickets and explained at Kings Cross, I had been told that as Virgin were a separate company, it was nothing to do with East Coast, and I had to buy a new ticket for £180. I applied to Virgin for a refund, who said that as their train had only been 52 minutes late, they owed me nothing and my missing a train from another company was not their business.

That was crazy. Now again, having different operating companies using different definitions of what constitutes “off-peak” coming into London is yet another example of the way the crazed “competition” model, in reality a series of taxpayer-funded private monopolies, works to the massive disadvantage of the consumer.

The railways need to be renationalised, and the modernisation and expansion of the network should be at the centre of economic growth strategy. A full 200mph high speed line to Aberdeen, another to Cardiff and a third to Stranraer for Belfast should be undertaken immediately. Beeching lines should be restored, and new lines to new population centres be a major priority. If the money from quantitve easing was applied to this and to homebuilding, rather than being given to the banking bonus pool as at present, we might actually see some life in our economy.

96 thoughts on “Derailed

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  • Vronsky

    Coming back from a walking holiday in Spain I took a private cabin from Santander to Plymouth. Very comfortable. Once in Plymouth I needed a single train ticket to Glasgow. It cost more than the luxury cruise I’d just had – lots more. I spent a long time arguing with the girl behind the glass that this could not be possible. Turned out it was entirely possible.

    So yes, nationalise. It must fuck someone worth fucking.

  • Rhisiart Gwilym

    Mr Garnett, your initials are AG, not CS. CS is a very nasty-smelling gas —

    Oh. Oh yes, I see what you mean. Alright, CS then.

  • Tony0pmoc

    [Jon/Mod: Tony, please keep contributions on topic – paragraphs on wife and family are, sadly, not relevant. Thanks.]

  • glenn

    CS: Bollocks. British Railways was totally bloody useless and lost a bundle. Renationalized, the railways would be bloody useless again and would again loose a bundle.


    Fascinating. So the current losses, sorry, massive shareholder profits and taxpayer subsidies, are nothing to be concerned about. “Loosing”, indeed.

    And every other government in the world that does this sort of thing well, and has an affordable, efficient rain network does this how – they’re just less crap than the British?

    Nice right-wing talking points, full marks for getting them in. Sigh… did I just feed a stinking, rotten, worthless filthy troll again?

  • Mochyn69

    O/T on this thread, but maybe worth starting a new thread. It’s the 10th anniversary of the publication of that Dodgy Dossier.

    The Guardian has a couple of articles on it asking did it damage democracy?

    and there’s another one by Charlie Falconer but I can’t find the link right now.

    For me personally, that was the day any semblance of belief in ‘democracy’ died. Before then I would vote religiously in every election of every kind, be it general, county council, district council, or even parish council. I have never voted in any election since.

    When are we, the people, ever going to start seizing back some of our power to infuence events, to change things for the better?

  • Jay

    Less we not forget, we dont print our money we are charged to borrow it at co,pound interest.

    Our attitude towards work is mostly wrong.
    Still that should not affect the cost of our rail.

    what do you reckon hard working Brits or winging pomms

  • Mary

    Glencore anf XStrata. Mr Ivan Glasenberg and Mr Mick Davis and the Qataris.

    Bliar was said by Ch 4 News the night before last to be last minute deal broker here. Imagine the amount of his commission. He will do anything for money and has no principles.


    Rowan Williams is suggesting a ‘presidency’ to share the load of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Notwithstanding that Bliar is a ‘catholic’ will he be applying for the post? He longs to be a president but failed in his attenmpt to become president of the EU mainly because of the outcry and massive protest.

  • Richard

    Rail fares, privatisation, globalisations, MP’s expenses, banks I could go on but it appears to me that the Great British Public are quite happy being fleeced as they do not want to do anything about it. They appear to be more interested in voting on X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing than sorting their country out and our so called leaders know this.
    It will be interesting to see how the Green Party fares at the next General Election, but having an Aussie at the helm can’t be doing them any favours (I’m all for meritocracy but is the general public)?

  • Flagg

    @Richard, re: new Green Party leader

    I reckon it’s the death knell of the party, or at least it will be led firmly back into the wilderness. No doubt another turncoat like Hewitt. A manifesto dominated by women’s issues will turn the media off and see the party’s recognition drop like a stone.

  • deepgreenpuddock

    As a regular reader I am always amazed at the way topics are followed and developed here. They seem to gravitate to a few seemingly eternal themes. Although someone said they don’t believe in clubs, it has the feel of a club. Some sort of talk club, with a shared delusion.Please don’t be offended by this comment. There are some superb interesting post here.

    The railway issue is to some extent a technological issue.In this country we have hedged bets by being half hearted about investing in them, because the investment is very large, and there is the possibility that some technological development related to personal transport will occur, as it surely will. It is about the diffidence of anglo-saxon capitalism, which fears losing out in some future developmental boom, and is a form of deeply committed capitalism, the irony being that the commitment is to capitalism to generate technical change, and never the fruits of the capitalism. The American version is raising of this idea to the status of a deity. It is the consistent, imperialist stance of anglo-saxon political philosophy.

    The popularity of cars is very obvious. Craig and others, such as my brother who also uses rail despite its drawbacks, are doing so for an ideological reason. I personally am sympathetic but the forces lined up against people who are trying to get by are difficult to resist. If I had resisted car ownership i would have had no possibility of a job that paid much. The travel to work area has expanded greatly over the last fifty years with the cars increasing development and its increasing reliability. In the 1960’s, commuting by car was maybe only 6-10 miles. That was because the cars were mostly bone-shaking health hazardous piles of junk.

    The other factor is cost. People do, of course,routinely underestimate the cost of running a car, at least partly because it is necessary to maintain the idea of advantage of a choice which has so many disadvantages.

    I suppose the main point I am making is that the forces that shape choices are only remotely rational and what little is rational is barely accessible in a world of so many people with conflicting needs and ideas.
    The idea of the market is not an adherence to rationality, as the right wing ideologues would like us to think, but the rejection of any attempt to make rational, or systematic choices in a world that is essentially unpredictable and chaotic.

    Religion is an attempt to deal with the randomness of the universe and just like market ideologues, a rejection of reason as a means to order affairs. The blog is some kind of attempt at a rational system of thinking. The shared delusion is that it is possible to resist the forces that shape us, and our thoughts.

  • Richard

    @Flagg – agreed


    My experience of blogs is that you need to get to know people and get out what you put in.

    The argument is that most peoples experience (both here in the UK and abroad) is that the railways run better as as nationalised industry.

    This leads on to British management being unable to organise a party in a brewery.

  • nevermind

    @Flagg and Richard
    That you have heard of this new Green Party leader and that she is Australian shows the opposite to your claims, many people heard of her.

    That foreigners can hold the leadership of the Green Party is something they never been questioned or attacked,afaik, so anybody from Germany France or Australia can do the job.

    That said, after Caroline Lucas, gender politics should have decreed a man takes over at the helm, but being the Green party they exempted their leaders from gender balance and adjusted the deputy leaders post instead. luckily a woman was elected, otherwise Adrian Ramsay would have lost his deputy position automatically.

  • Jon

    (Hi all. I’m away for the afternoon, so apologies if some comments get held for moderation, will check when I get back. Keep ’em short and on-topic, and they should get through. Clark is still soaking up the sun, I believe!)

  • Mary

    Good on her.

    “We want councillors in every major town and city around the country, in every county and district and an MEP in every region of England and Wales.

    That’s important for Britain and voters are coming to realise that.

    They increasingly understand that decades of neoliberalism, privatisation and support for the welfare of multinational companies over the welfare of people, as championed by first Labour and now the Coalition, have failed to deliver even the basics of a decent life to millions in what is still, after all, the world’s sixth-richest economy.

    Voters are seeking, hunting even, for new solutions, new ideas, new representatives.

    The current politics has failed to house us. One in 10 in London households is on a council housing waiting list and private rents are soaring.

    The current politics have failed to feed us. Food banks are one of our few fast growing industries. Global food prices are rising rapidly and industrial agriculture is clearly failing.

    The current politics has failed to deliver stable, decently paid jobs for millions. Just look at the youth unemployment figures. Just look at the scandals of zero-hours contracts.

    The current politics has failed to provide support to those whose lives are hit by illness or accident – events that could happen to any one of us at any moment.

    It has failed to provide serene, financially secure old age – old age which is going to happen, we hope, to all of us.

    That could be a litany of woe – and on one level it is.

    But on another level – the Green level- it is an opportunity.”

    From Natalie Bennett’s speech at Bristol.

  • Richard

    @Nevermind – My point was people voting for a foreigner, not whether they’d heard of her (I doubt they’d vote for someone they’ve not heard of).
    Great post Mary. Looking forward to see how they do at the next election as what/who’s the alternative?

  • Abe Rene

    Tony0pmoc: I had the chance to visit Ground Zero last month. To get in one has to book a time (tickets are free, but donations are welcome) and go through airport-style security scanning.

    The memorial site in the footprints of the former twin towers is finished. Two huge quadrangular waterfalls, each with a central square draining pool. The sound of the waters reminded me of Revelation 1:15. We might hope that the 3000 or so people who died that day are now hearing the voice that sounds like many waters, and that for them it is a comforting and pardoning voice.

    The pools are set in a grove of trees, one of which is special: the “survivor tree” was uprooted by the falling towers, but somehow they revived it and its now stands in its own enclosure.

    As for the buildings surrounding the memorial, the forthcoming “Freedom Tower” has reached its projected height, though the top is still surrounded by scaffolding, and only the shell of the museum has been built.

    I picked up an interesting book at the shop there: the 9/11 report in comic book form! The artist worked on Harvey, DC and Marvel comics. Readers might find it interesting. The ISBN is 9780809057399.

  • Mary

    I have just read this translation of a poem entitled Allende by Mario Benedetti. This is Gary Corseri’s introduction. It is an amazing poem and recommend a read of it.

    Benedetti, Halle and Orloski
    From a regular contributor to Poets’ Basement:

    On 9/11, there will be the flag-waving and the speeches, the hoopla and memorials, pledges by politicians to maintain the “War on Terror”– wrong preposition there! Should be “of”! — pundits pontificating and celebrities trying to cerebrate. Few Americans will pause to reflect on the 9/11 of 1973, when the CIA-engineered coup against the most democratic government in South America—that of Chile—resulted in the death of President Salvador Allende, the establishment of the 17-year-long dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, and a reign of terror that saw the immediate imprisonment of some 40,000 “political enemies”—i.e., democratic opposition—in Chile’s National Museum, widespread torture and terror for almost 2 decades, and, in a nation with about 1/20th the population of the US at that time, at least 3,000 deaths—about the same number of Americans and others as died on 9/11/2001.

    I was reminded of these horrors recently when, to my surprise, my newly hired “house-painter” engaged me in a conversation about literature! I mentioned my enthusiasm for certain Latin American authors, and Oscar asked me if I knew the work of the Uruguayan writer, Mario Benedetti. I confessed my ignorance, Mr. Gonzalez passed on a book of Benedetti’s collected poems; I wrestled with the Spanish, but understood enough of the poem about Allende to suggest to Oscar that we attempt a co-translation. [The original Spanish version may be linked to here: {} © Fundación Mario Benedetti, Uruguay; c/o {}]

    The following is the result of our dialogue, and our humble tribute to the brave souls everywhere who struggle against corruption, deceit and tyranny. – Gary Corseri


    in order to kill the man of peace

    to strike his forehead clean of nightmares

    they had to become a nightmare

    to defeat the man of peace

    they had to congregate all hatreds

    and planes and tanks as well

    to batter the man of peace

    they had to bombard him and turn him into flame

    because the man of peace was a fortress

    and three more verses here

  • Mary

    No irony. Who has been singing Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free, …. tonight whilst waving their silly litte union jack flags? Thousands upon thousands at the last night of the Proms in London, Belfast, Caerphilly and Glasgow and in many other places no doubt. Even Olympic medal winners were dragged on to the stage draped in union flags when rule brittania was played and sung.

    I feel sick when I think of what’s really going on. I can’t take anymore of this red, white and blue hype. Bring on the new year.

  • Greenmachine

    Your comments re Susan Lindauer are welcome. I read her book during 2011 and if even a fraction of the claimed intrigues contained within are correct I would have to conclude tht we do indeed live in ‘police states’ of which the Nazis would have been very proud! Get hold of the book and read it. It will challenge your world view in the same way that accepting that the Cold War, War on Terror, Financial crisis and 9/11 were created by the elite – military -industrial – intelligence agency complex. We are being taken for fools by these evil SoBs.
    If one also follows the writings of Tony Schaffer (Able Danger – DoD – Special Forces) alongside the trusted alternatives to the MSM, such as Craig,Max Keiser etc. the picture becomes clearer but very troubling indeed! Keep up the great work Craig and all you regular contributors….you are an inspiration.

  • angrysoba

    Craig Murray: A full 200mph high speed line to Aberdeen, another to Cardiff and a third to Stranraer for Belfast should be undertaken immediately.
    Aha! Nice try, Mr. Murray!
    While I completely agree with you that renationalizing the railways would be a good idea and the state of British trains is atrocious (I particularly despise the fact that the logic of ticket prices is a complete mystery and can fluctuate up and down all over the place), it is very sneaky of you to demand a high speed rail-way link to Scotland when you know full well you’re planning to be an independent country within a couple of years.

  • Fedup

    Operation Paper-clip ensured that the cream of the Nazi talents were transferred into the respective winners’ countries and these newly inducted personnel set about putting the finishing touches on the thousand year Reich, fore their new employers.

    CIA, FBI, NASA are but a fee of the beneficiaries of the infusion of new blood.

  • Jay

    Take the blinkers off, see through the propoganda and look at the big picture please.

    The machinations of a dictorial society run correctly would enhance all our lives?

  • Mary

    This is an excellent comment on Medialens on the thread discussing Falconer and Campbell chatting away about the Iraq dossier as if a village tea party followed,

    Re: The Guardian Naively Asks: ‘Did the Iraq Dossier Damage Democracy?’

    Posted by its1789 on September 8,2012, 5:07 pm,

    I find the language used in our media, in general, quite appalling. The life and meaning of words is being sucked dry so we’re left with empty husks, most of the time.

    Like the use of “force” here. So the decade long attack on Iraq, the barbaric siege, the colossal suffering, misery, and mountains of dead and damaged, perhaps as many as three million unnecessary deaths, a country literally torn apart, smashed backwards decades in time… all this, and I’m just scratching the surface, was merely “our use of force”? What are these people talking about?

    Massive, systematic, brutal, bloody, military attacks, saturation bombing, the destruction of a nations infra-structure, a reign of terror from the skies, a juggernaut of death rolling over everyone destroying everything in its path… all this is no way close to the meaning of the word “force.”

    Using the wrong words and language is an attempt, a campaign, to deny what really happened and pretend we aren’t bloody barbarians, part of an aggressive empire gone rogue. So language and words and their clear meanings are sacrificed and massaged to avoid dealing with the enormous scale of our crimes and the total lack of accountability our “democracy” has demanded of the criminals who dragged us all along to the slaughter, based on a mountain of lies.

    And our “democracy” slowly becomes close to an empty husk too.


  • Flagg

    @Nevermind – “That you have heard of this new Green Party leader and that she is Australian shows the opposite to your claims, many people heard of her.”

    No it shows we read the news about the leadership election, you have to give her a bit of time to destroy the party and it’s following.

  • nevermind

    This is a letter by students and lecturers from UEA and St Andrews, both hotbeds of political activism, as we know well. Its singed by Rupert Read, philosophy lecturer who accepted the removal of the rector of Dundee university, a fellow union member, Craig Murray from a debate on education organised by the BBC, rather than walk out and show up the debate for the mockery it was. Rupert likes to dabble in Green politics but his understanding of the middle east is somewhat skewed.–online-postings-9-september-2012-8120055.html

    “Robert Fisk’s access to prisoners in a Syrian jail is unprecedented (“Syria’s road from jihad to prison”, 2 September); why is that? The interviewees selected for him are all “foreign” jihadists; why is that? The prison governor and intelligence officer seem to fall over themselves to accommodate him; why is that? This is a blinding piece of PR from the Syrian government and we can hardly credit that a “veteran” journalist and a respected liberal newspaper fell for it.

    Juliette Harkin, Dr Rupert Read and Odai Al-Zoubi (all University of East Anglia), Hussam Eddin Mohammad, Amjad Nasser, Nouri al-Jarrah, Mohammad Marsharka, Ghalia Kabbani, Jomaa Boukleib, Bassam Jaara, Fadel al-Sultani, Rebaee al-Modhoun, Mohammad Fattouh, Eyad Abu Shakra, Munzer Zamalkani (University of St Andrews), Fathieh Saudi.”

    My reply to Rupert and his consortium of students, here rather than on medialens, I’m not signed up there, is as follows:

    One assumes that readers prefer Robert Fisks access, gained from decades of experience, patience and living in the middle east, however incredible this may sound amongst the shrill MSM noises made about Syria, to that of selective students and lecturers steeped in pre conceptions and distance learning.
    Rupert Read seems to blur the lines between learning and activism, by purporting to support the western war hype and propaganda trail, with no real ideas of the middle east. I’m not aware that Rupert is integral to the Green Party’s defense working group or has any special middle east expertise.

  • Clive P

    Regarding your Truro-York trip where they didn’t honour your ticket: you can almost certainly get the extra charge refunded if you take it up with Passenger Focus who are the official body for consumer complaints about the rail system (outside London). It is absolutely settled that if you travel on one ticket and take trains which are supposed to connect (e.g. that the times are those suggested by one of the official on-line services) then when one service is late the other rail company MUST allow you to travel on a later one. There is still some argument about whether this must happen if you book the two sections of your journey on separate tickets, but on one ticket, no doubt whatever.

  • friendly phil

    Travelling after midnight and returning later the same day is not a ‘day return’. ‘diculous.

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