Wednesday, 26 September 2007

EU off the rails

by Bertrand Boer-Waugh

The EU is basking in self-congratulation today for it claims that it has reigned in unfair treatment of rail passengers. What nonsense—it has achieved the square root of **** all.

We have one of the worst train systems in the developed world, and even ours already gives the discounts that the EU have just decreed (which, anyway, have a 15-year opt-out). Never mind Spain giving refunds on AVE services if trains are more than 5 minutes late. The EU has achieved nothing.

On top of that, under the rules, the train company is only meant to be able to back out of refunds if the delay was not their fault. Don't believe that to be true either. I was on a First Great Western train from Swindon that was delayed for one and a half hours. Ten minutes of that delay was due to the police closing a section of track for a jumper. But, as we were told at the time, the remaining one hour, twenty minutes was due to train and track problems. However, when it comes to claiming a refund, it turns out that the whole of the delay was classified as being due to the police action and therefore not their fault. Well spun FGW. You remain beneath contempt.

Only £50m of the £300m that was paid by network rail etc. to the train operating companies was returned to customers. That is £250m that wasn't returned—far more than the £200m that the OFT is claiming that supermarkets ripped us off by. Why is this not plastered all over the news?

1 comment:

Charles Pooter said...

The history of the railways is one of political interference: compulsary purchases, grants of monopoly, regulation, nationalisation, botched privatisation, subsidies, more regulation, more nationalisation.

I don't find it surprising that the EU has joined in the cluster-****. In some ways I find it suprising the railways work at all.