You may have guessed that I often travel by public transport; despite the fact that delayed trains have become the bane of my life. In fact, there is a running joke in my family about my inability to catch a train which arrives on time – there was even a 3 month period in 2015 when I travelled on trains completely free; as I was able to claim back a refund for every single journey I made due to lateness or cancellations.
So why do I still put myself through it? Well, because it’s better for the environment than driving a car. (And I also completely hate traffic). For anyone who wants to start considering their carbon footprint within their travelling habits: it’s pretty intuitive, but see the transport hierarchy below.
Southern Railway. That little badger.
Over the last 12 months, this privatised corporate monster has cut over 100 services which it runs each week, due to ‘efficiency gains’. There have been a ridiculous number of strikes due to ever increasing pressure on their staff, a high % of their trains are delayed or cancelled, and 100% people are in general quite *** off with their behaviour. For anyone wanting to travel more sustainably, they are making it damn hard to do so.
In an attempt to sort out this madness, Chris Grayling, our delightful new transport minister, announced yesterday in the Evening Standard that he was GIVING Southern Rail a whopping £20million of public money, in order to get the company back on track (excuse the pun). This money is to be used to reinstate services and to provide more staff at stations, so as to meet the demand of Southern commuters. This is great news for any regular train-goers, and for any Southern staff, as it’ll reduce congestion and stress, and hopefully result in less frustration on a daily basis.
Despite this positivity though, the practice of giving public money to private companies is completely unsustainable, and actually quite morally reprehensible. That’s because this morning, Govia (Southern Rail’s parent company) announced that over the last 12 months, they have made nearly £100million profit.
ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS AND THEIR TRAIN SERVICES ARE ****.
Why are we giving this company yet more money to line their executive’s pockets, when they can’t even supply people with a basic level of customer service?
No matter of your thoughts on Jeremy Corbyn and his dubious PR stunt on the Virgin Train a few weeks ago; at least he isn’t taking money from the public purse and throwing it at the Lords who own the railways. His suggestion of bringing the railways back into public ownership: of using those profits to increase jobs, improve services and make sustainable transport more accessible: those are things that we should be spending this money on… Rather than siphoning off cash to the men in grey suits.
Therefore I beg of any other fellow train users: let’s not just accept this behaviour from Southern, nor from Grayling. Their money-making antics should not come at the expense of the general public. Let’s start having some conversations about how we can make train travel more sustainable. Sustainable on an economic level, an environmental level, and on a personal sanity level.