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Guardian writer is idiot over inequality

Segregation or acceptable luxury: should first-class train travel be abolished?

It’s shaking more money out of the gullible you idiot!

Note that if you abolish first class then all and every cost benefit analysis for the expansion of the rail network immediately fails.


30 thoughts on “Guardian writer is idiot over inequality”

  1. “Feeling flush one recent Saturday afternoon at Victoria, I asked for a first-class train ticket to Brighton. “Why?” said the ticket clerk. “There’s hardly any difference.”

    The train company should sack anyone who says anything other than ‘Yes, sir, cash or credit card?’.

  2. Gullible? I’d say it’s mostly used by people who aren’t personally paying for it. And is that competitive private businesses providing that, or some tentacle of the state?

    If it’s the latter, does that then become circular spending?

  3. Ahh, the socialist outlook comes to the fore.

    Let’s not aim at making every compartment first class (as you say, not much difference) rather, let’s make all compartments the same as the worst example.

    Of course, the way it normally works in practice is that socialists don’t so much abolish luxury, as make sure that the only people who use it are the party faithful.

  4. I paid extra for first class to go from CH to Italy at the weekend. Aside from one bit of the return leg (in Italy) where 1st was packed whereas in 2nd allowed me to have a 4-seat block to myself, it was well worth it.

    Tell you what though, I could *not* live in Italy…..

  5. I used to use it all the time.

    Poole-Manchester of a Friday evening, FC was a must as the services were rammed with oiks, with little regard for seat reservations. It was a miserable experience for those without seats (me on one occasion).

    On the weekends (Sunday evening), I would use Virgin’s £15 upgrade.

    Some years later I spent 18 months daily between Manchester-Leeds. The weekly difference between standard and FC was about £25, for which I got limitless coffee, a breakfast box, and a mercifully peaceful and stress free journey with my laptop. In standard I would not have been able to work, so the time would have been lost. And again, the poor buggers were rammed in for the last 40 mins.

    The money making, from people who aren’t paying (on the routes I was using) comes mainly from the Manchester/Leeds/Other to London routes, where standard return was about £200 and FC was £450. My clients chose not to pay for the upgrade (except on 1 occasion), and I got nothing useful done in the 2.5 hour journey.

  6. My understanding was that most first class customers were public service “executives”, i.e. graun readers, so perhaps someone requires a clip round the ear.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    I raised this issue with a Dutch friend who was bragging about how egalitarian there country, his response was that they may have first and second class rail travel, but there are no first or second class citizens.

    I occasionally upgraded when I was travelling to London, on one occasion 1st was cheaper the 2nd if I travelled on specific trains. I once had a similar experience flying to Lisbon where business was significantly cheaper than standard.

  8. If any of you idiots actually read the article, he concludes that 1st shouldn’t be abolished.

    He describes the differences between commuter 1st (pay more to have higher chance of sitting down, but is never enforced until the day you decide to chance it with a Std ticket) and long-distance 1st (more comfy, quieter, free drinks and sometimes food, free wifi and charging points where these aren’t available in Std on that train).

    But he fails to make a distinction between these. Grayling only wants to reduce commuter 1st and not long-distance 1st.

    And Julia, if you aren’t a commuter, there really isn’t any difference between 1st and Std on London-Brighton – which the author should have known given his boasting about his PRIV dependent pass. I bet he made that bit up about the ticket seller, who probably just said “£41 please”. Anyway, the Guardian paid for his ticket and he wouldn’t have had an article to write otherwise.

  9. Bloke on M4,

    The public sector – or at least the more militaristic parts of it I’ve worked in – have had a blanket ban on any “higher classes” of travel since 2009 or so. (I’m sure there are exceptions available if you’re sufficiently senior). Before that we were nominally entitled to use it over certain journey lengths, but local policy was that with a fixed T&S budget we could send one person business-class or three or four in economy. Some got on their high horses and said “I’m entitled, if I don’t go business class I don’t go” while others learned to live with Gulf Air cattle class to Bahrain.

    Rarely an issue for rail (“work on the train” isn’t a good idea when your work is protectively marked) but it made a working group in Australia distinctly unfun: after thirty-six hours of train, checking in, economy-class flight, changing at Singapore for more economy-class flight, and clearing customs, I got to collect my car and work out (a) how to drive in Australia, (b) how to drive a Prius, (c) where the hell is my hotel in this strange land, (d) in fourteen hours I’m at work.

    Shouldn’t have joined if you can’t take a joke… but not all “foreign travel” is a bounteous luxury, and a week alternating between a conference room in DSTO Edinburgh and a dodgy hotel in Adelaide isn’t exactly a competition prize. (Worth doing for the results, but work not fun).

    The one time I did Premium Economy was coming back from a naval conference in the US, though. My two regular Navy colleagues benefited from United’s policy to upgrade servicemen of the US and its allies where possible, and Geraint and Jamie kindly pointed out that I was with them and a reservist officer, so could we travel together… good to have friends.

  10. I have to admit I’ve started going first class on the odd trips I have up to London, as the alternative is being crammed into a cattle car, often without a seat. Its definitely worth the extra ££ for some peace and quiet, extra leg room and a comfy seat.

  11. @ Rob Moss

    Coffee? Really? I’ve never been given anything even comparable. It’s universally terrible even by British standards.

  12. I like the concept of the “Quiet Zone” carriages.

    But what’s the point of suggesting no mobiles or music if there’s no suggestion that people keep their voices down as well? Almost inevitably there’s one conversation going on at ‘donkey braying’ level in the quiet zone.

    And lots of people don’t realise they are in a Quiet Zone as the notices on the carriage walls are not exactly conspicuous.

    I’d like to see notices on the backs of seats which say

    “You are in the Quiet Zone. There’s plenty of room elsewhere on the train if you want to make phone calls, play music or bray like a donkey about your plans for the day. So if you’re reading this, turn everything off and shut the fuck up”

  13. The really important question here, if you click through to the article, is in the photo at the start how the fvck the guy on the right seems to be looking at a mobile phone, in 1928??

  14. Jason Lynch,
    It was a commenter here some time ago who said that whenever he traveled first class, his fellow pasengers were largely, by their conversation, in the health care business. I took him at his word and suspect you can add the beeb and third sector to that. So only indirectly public sector but still tax funded. The age of captains of industry seems to be behind us. I expect they travel by bus these days.

  15. @ John
    Yes, I have read the article and he wants first class to be retained *for himself*, so that he can be insulated from the hoi polloi and hen parties. Privilege is fine, as long as it is for Guardianistas.

  16. Roue le Jour,

    It’s not “state” like local authorities and military. Not those bits that you absolutely need like defending borders and emptying bins. Those are under scrutiny in terms of spending.

    I think it’s this little “B” ark stuff. “social enterprises”, “charities” with no donors, arts institutions. A new Establishment that don’t think they have to give a fuck about the public’s wishes, while taking their money. Sold as the best of both worlds (working like companies, profits and aims like charities) but actually the worst of both (staff trying to enrich themselves and the efficiency of the state).

  17. I insist my wife travels first class because we can’t afford second class, what with the subsequent osteopath’s bill.

  18. Roué,

    > whenever he traveled first class, his fellow pasengers were largely, by their conversation, in the health care business. I took him at his word and suspect you can add the beeb and third sector to that

    Long-distance weekday trains seem to be the preserve of public sector workers, even in standard class. Private sector workers have to drive or videoconference to their meetings.

  19. From the article:

    The man who’d been sitting next to me since York called the guard over and said, “I assume I’ll be entitled to a full refund?”

    From memory, I think you get a refund to standard price for that leg of the journey. I also vaguely remember refunds for such things never being available to season ticket holders, and being quite pissed off at the time.

    Never mind the encroaching noise, its the look of resentment and envy upon their sad little standard faces that sticks with me.

    I positively disapprove of those who try to be fractionally one-up by paying extra for “speedy boarding”

    Me too, until I got caught out one time and had my hand luggage involuntarily checked-in due to lack of cabin locker space. I ended up waiting for it for 45 mins at Gatwick, an extra delay which caused me to miss the last train home. Thereafter, I always upgraded after checking seat availability and hour or so before departure (I was doing this every month for 4+ years).

  20. Bloke on M4,

    > it’s this little “B” ark stuff

    Quite. I know of one stridently pro-green environmental consultancy (London-based, largely government-funded) which was due to give a training session in Glasgow. They tried in vain to persuade their client that they had to be paid for a day’s travel time either side of the training session so that they could travel by train; because flying would violate their eco-credentials.

    They simply couldn’t understand why the client didn’t want to pay for something (the extra travel time) which was of no benefit whatsoever to the client. Bubble thinking doesn’t even begin to describe it.

  21. Hmm. When I was doing on-site work at Sellafield I was paid a day’s wages to drive to the local hotel, a day’s wages on site, and a day’s wages to drive home afterwards. The benefit to the client was that I was actually on site, instead of having to set off at 3am.

    The benefit to me was four hours trekking through the Lakes on the last day before setting off home. Bonus, I did Hardnott and Whynose Passes. 🙂

  22. The public sector – or at least the more militaristic parts of it I’ve worked in – have had a blanket ban on any “higher classes” of travel since 2009 or so

    One of the recurring themes in “The Sandbaggers” (late 70s/early 80s ITV) was how stingy MI6 chiefs would save money by flying its assassins round the world first-class, but fly them back home cattle-class. Logic being that if an assassin arrived tired, made mistakes and got caught, it was then bloody expensive to send out a second assassin to track down and assassinate the first assassin before KGB interrogators had extracted vital intelligence about all the other assassins. But if the mission was completed successfully, it didn’t matter if they got back to base with a bad back and sleep deprivation. (A fictitious example, but I enjoyed the application of such rigorous financial logic to a lethal endeavour.)

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