Why railway ticket offices are here to stay

So it seems that rail ticket offices will be reprieved. After a vociferous campaign – not least on behalf of elderly travellers who might find it difficult to use mobile phone technology, let alone the network of often-dysfunctional ticket machines – the government has undertaken a U-turn and told rail companies to withdraw their proposals to close most ticket offices on the network. Any other – genuinely private – industry would be deeply engaged in cost-cutting It may be the right decision. We certainly don’t need as many booking clerks as we did in the day before ticket machines or online ticket sales. It is good that passengers have the

The utter shamelessness of Britain’s rail unions

In what other industry could demand collapse by a tenth and yet the staff still think that they have a right to an above inflation pay rise and no job losses? Rail privatisation was supposed to put an end to union militancy and to relieve taxpayers of the financial risk of running the railways. Patently, it has achieved neither objective. Three national rail strikes have been declared for later in the month, to compound strikes on the London underground. Meanwhile, taxpayers will contribute £16 billion this year to propping up an industry in which demand for its services have collapsed. In the week to 22 May (before the effect of

Boris’s rail betrayal is no surprise

A promise made is merely a promise waiting to be broken. If events complicate life for all governments it is nevertheless apparent some governments are more likely to abandon their promises than others. And by now no-one should be surprised that a government led by Boris Johnson finds it easier to jettison its pledges than to honour them. It is the nature of the creature. Today it happens to be High Speed Rail, but yesterday it was something else and tomorrow it will be another thing altogether. The Prime Minister’s inconstancy is his constancy. Even so, the watering down of previous plans to – at long last – invest seriously