Obviously it’s a travel day today. I’ve been using National Express on the East Coast a lot recently, and while I have issues with some of their services, it’s at least better than this vision provided by Simon Hoggart in today’s Guardian:
A witty reader (he’s not sent his name, fearing legal reprisals) sends in a wonderful fantasy in which Michael O’Leary of Ryanair buys our east coast railway and runs it like his airline. The ticket prices will look like amazing bargains, say London to Edinburgh for £1.
“But these principles will apply: fee of £5 for internet booking, £5 for timetable inquiries, £5 for credit card payments, £20 for clicking the OK – pay button, admission charge to station, charge for compulsory on-board ticket inspection, £5 alighting fee, £10 penalty for not pre-ordering £5 alighting fee, and that’s before we’ve started on the baggage charges and the £10 for those mini-carrier bags from the buffet if you want to get back to your seat (£7.50 compulsory reservation charge) without spilling coffee all over you. The company dismissed the £1 blowing-your-own-nose fee as pure speculation.”
Of course, the universe makes fools of us jokers, with any joke about Ryanair soon being fulfilled by Michael O’Leary’s relentless drive for profit and publicity. I used to joke about them making an extra charge for seats, for example. So, while jokes about Ryanrail may seem funny now, imagine just what horrors O’Leary could inflict on rail passengers by combining his ability to slap a price on everything with the petty bureaucracy and officialdom that has been part of the culture of British rail since, well, British Rail.
‘You may well have a ticket for that train, sir, but you’ve yet to pay your gate transit and platform access fees, and while it might be the last train home tonight, it’d be more than my job’s worth to let you get on it.’