A GROUP of prospective Labour MPs want leader Ed Miliband to renationalise the railway, should he become Prime Minister.
Some might quip that those who back the plan are naive socialists, absent from the real world, but I can see the benefits.
The issue reminds me of a sour experience I had in 2011 after my friend and I had flown back to Bristol.
We had advanced tickets restricting us to travelling on a particular train from Bristol Temple Meads to Manchester.
Problems began when the entry barrier at the station failed, causing us to miss the train.
“Don’t worry,” said the ticket office worker. “Get on the next train and tell the conductor what has happened. It’ll be fine.”
It was not fine.
The conductor was unsympathetic and made us get off at Cheltenham Spa, where things went from bad to worse.
Rather than help us, platform staff threatened to have us arrested for trespass on the railway, so we had to make our way out of the station, suitcases and all, with the prospect of having to pay £75 each to get home.
(We later found out it happened to be a special ‘ticket fraud action’ day and staff were taking a hardline approach to impress their visiting boss). Fortunately, on the way out, I was able to explain the situation to a ticket office worker, who called Bristol to check our story and resolved the problem swiftly.
Due to procedure, we both had to fill in fine forms but the penalties were cancelled later.
But why did we have to go through all that stress in the first place?
It was because six firms were involved: one running Bristol Temple Mead’s ticket office, another running the station barrier and another running the train with the unreasonable conductor.
A fourth company’s staff manned platforms at Cheltenham, a fifth company’s worker helped us out and a sixth company issued us with the fine notice.
Had all the staff been employed by the same firm, the chances of such a stressful encounter would have been almost nil.
Such stories are food for thought in the nationalisation debate.