The company behind Southern Rail made a huge profit last year, but the government is still bailing out their failing service. Coinslot editor Joseph Ewens is, it’s fair to say, not very happy about it.
My regular trips down to Brighton, to the Coinslot editorial offices, are constantly blighted by Southern Rail’s torrid excuse for a transport network. And while I will welcome with clutching, desperate arms any investment which fixes the many and obvious problems suffered by the business, why is the government forking out £20m when its parent company Go-Ahead made £100m in profit last year? Surely they could be expected to invest a quarter of that healthy sum to repair the public service they are so spectacularly failing to run.
Brighton’s many arcades have been seriously affected by the months and months of delays, cancellations and strikes on the line and yet, like clockwork, train ticket prices are to rise next year and the government is stepping in to bail them out. What’s worse, thanks to the franchise system, we have until 2021 to wait before anyone is allowed to step in and offer a competing service.
I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that by that point (such is the general incompetence rampant at the company) Southern’s trains will surely all have exploded, spontaneously driven themselves off cliffs or become accidentally trapped in a hedge long before that date.
But more importantly, can a seaside economy survive the assault of transport disruptions that simply cause mayhem and misery for the visitor – and a consideration that maybe, just maybe, it might be cheaper and easier to travel elsewhere. Shame on the railways, shame on all the parties involved in the Southern Rail dispute. The real sufferers are those communities who are desperate for the trade and business that coastal economies depend on.