If I were king for a day, my trains would take passengers, not customers | Richard J Evans

If I were king for a day, my trains would take passengers, not customers | Richard J Evans
Renationalising the railways will restore the era of true public service – and Dr Beeching will be forgotten as I ride the Cambridge-to-Oxford line

In possession of unfettered powers, the first thing I would do would be to make everyone on our transport system stop calling us “customers” and start calling us “passengers” again. In the old days, “passenger” signified someone on a journey who was being helped by the stationmasters, booking-office clerks, ticket collectors and guards in a culture of public service. The rot started when they changed it to “customer”, signifying that our railways were now private enterprises selling their services to us instead of providing them as a benefit to the community. We could all feel part of a common enterprise. Now we are just people with money.

Reinstating the hallowed concept of the passenger would entail the rather larger change of renationalising the railways. For two decades we’ve had to suffer constantly rising fares until they’re 10 times higher than many of those on the continent; pricing structures so complicated that even booking clerks can’t always understand them; and overcrowding so gross that often there’s standing room only on the line I take in and out of London, and no doubt on many others.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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