Scrapping first-class train carriages leaves us all in third
Transport minister Chris Grayling has proposed that overcrowding on trains should be eased by replacing first class with more standing room. Are the carriages relics of a bygone time, or do they have a present-day use?
One of the smaller puzzles of a postwar childhood was the mystery of the missing class. Railway carriages had “1st” and “3rd” painted on their doors – first class and third class – but the second class was not to be found. Where had it gone? Where had they gone, all the second-class people who had used it? Refined people, probably, with first-class social ambitions thwarted by a genteel poverty, leaving the world jaggedly divided between the aristocracy, resting their delicate heads on antimacassars, and the rest of us, trundling behind on the scratchy moquette.
Was it George Bernard Shaw who said that when socialism made everyone equal, nobody would lose out – the objective was a society where everybody travelled first class rather than third? Even Shaw, a man who could actually remember the second-class carriage, chose to ignore it as the panacea that would raise many people up and bring only a few others down.
Source: Guardian Transport