22 February 2009

stand and deliver

Two contrasting news stories about the railways this week demonstrate contrasting priorities of the British public and the rail operating companies. The Liberal Democrats announced that UK off-peak rail fares were the most expensive in Europe, using the less-than-helpful yardstick of comparing how how far you could get in Serbia for £10 versus the UK. Apparently the average Serb gets to enjoy over 500 miles by rail for ten quid, against a miserly 26 miles in this country.

Although this was widely reported in the British press, no-one seems to have questioned what £10 would be worth in real terms in each country. A quick check reveals the minimum wage in the UK is about 1200 Euros per month; in Serbia it is less than 100. So although you may be able to travel a long way from Belgrade for your money, you'd have nothing left to spend when you arrived.

Of more parochial interest was the news that Warrington Quay station is erecting signs forbidding kissing - or, rather, designating it to parts of the station that won't inconvenience other travellers (story here). Apparently those dropping off loved ones are spending such a long time in parting clinches they are holding up other passengers, causing delays. Personally I wouldn't need much incentive to leave Warrington more quickly, but I think it's a bit rich for Virgin Trains (for it is they) to accuse these travellers of holding up passengers. At £115 for a standard single to London, it seems to me the only hold-up seems to be happening at the ticket office.

1 comment:

PW said...

If I found myself in Serbia, I'd happily pay £100 to travel 500miles away.

One of my most vivid memories of Warrington station is from just after the 7/7 bombings. I passed through the station and saw two cops brandishing Hechler & Koch automatic weapons on the platform. I expect they may have been preventing kissing in an undesignated area.