As public transport in Britain continues on its own epic journey of offering increasingly unusable services, an idea increasingly taking hold in the court of public opinion is that nationalisation – or, taking Britain’s railways out of a multitude of competing private hands and making them the responsibility of a single government entity – just might be the answer.
It probably is: currently, many of Britain’s rail services appear to be utterly malfunctioning, evidenced by the routine delays and cancellations. That’s not to mention the spiralling prices that customers are paying for a service that just seems to be getting worse, or not improving at all (the average of a British train is 21, with the youngest 11-years-old and the oldest a creaking 43).
There are several reasons, however, as to why we should ignore the rail-hippy naysayers, forget public ownership and just allow the current system to prevail. Here are 10 of the best reasons why British rail should remain private, supported by selected tweets from the great British public.
10. It keeps you on your toes
Here's some data about train punctuality between Cambridge and Kings Cross in June. "% Svc Ran" is how often the train actually ran (i.e. wasn't cancelled), "% Arrivals" is how often the train arrived with 5 minutes of the scheduled time. As you can see, it's not a pretty picture pic.twitter.com/YszEulomD2
— Phil Rodgers (@PhilRodgers) June 29, 2018
Where’s the fun in everything running on time? If Britain’s pointlessly fragmented rail network were to be simplified so it ran according to schedule it would be no challenge at all.
9. Everyone likes a surprise
Good news! Northern so far haven't cancelled ANY trains on the Lakes Line this week. This unprecedented success must've gone to their heads though as they've decided to cancel half the trains on the neighbouring Furness Line instead #NorthernFail pic.twitter.com/pua7JVKjW7
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) July 3, 2018
Ask yourself: would you rather everything work out the way you expect all the time, or would you rather have a few curveballs thrown in now and then? Life’s sheer unpredictability is what keeps it exciting, so thank God British trains are never reliable.
8. It’s exciting!
Just heard the most crap excuse announcement at Blackfriars station by @TLRailUK why the train is cancelled and I quote “ WE CANT FIND THE TRAIN “ maybe it has drifted into the twilight zone where trains run on time
— Chris Dryden (@mr42d) June 28, 2018
In Britain, under the current system, trains can just disappear. This would never happen anywhere else, and that’s got to count for something.
7. We all need putting in our place
Applause due to @TLRailUK and @SouthernRailUK – last night all of my trains were cancelled (Redhill to London Bridge) and this morning… cancelled again. Spectacular – and on a day I have important meetings #thameslinkfail #southernFail pic.twitter.com/Pal7SLHoVW
— Joanna Robinson (@jorobinson) July 4, 2018
“You can’t always get what you want”, said immortal rockers The Rolling Stones, and it’s a lesson we all need to learn. If there’s been a prevailing theme of British life under the Tories since 2010, it’s that we all had it too easy before. Malfunctioning transport services are exactly what we serfs need to teach us a lesson, right along with the stagnating wages and health service that’s increasingly knackered.
6. The British can handle what other Europeans can’t
Like most days, journey home today using utterly inept @Se_Railway was late, overcrowded and dangerously overheated. Complaining no longer results in any improvement whether to train company or toothless @TransportFocus so please @transportgovuk take action! pic.twitter.com/KSuDtapvJC
— Councillor Hall (@CllrHall) July 3, 2018
With Brexit fast approaching – or maybe not! – it’s high time us Brits prove what stern stuff we’re made of. Now, as overheating and overcrowding combine to create a perfect storm of uncomfortability, we’re surely proving our mettle to Mrs Merkel. Continuing to put up with these needlessly rubbish conditions will make the EU think we can handle anything.
5. We’re all (literally) closer than before
More trains. More seats. More adventures, is it @GWRHelp? The adventure I'm having this morning is yet another overcrowded train, a cancelled seat reservation, and a new, intimate acquaintance with someone else's sweaty back. Yaaaaay! pic.twitter.com/RZJOga4qTM
— Andy Hartup (@AndyHartup) July 3, 2018
Brexit has so far proved an enormous success, but one thing the libs just won’t stop moaning about is how divided the country has been since the vote. One trip on a modern British train will make you feel closer to your fellow countryfolk than ever.
4. The bants has been great so far
I’m not saying this train is overcrowded, but I’m typing this tweet with someone else’s arse
— Niall (@Notinaboyband) July 3, 2018
If there’s one thing Britain’s terrible rail has been good for, it’s cracking bants of the sort seen in the tweet above. Nationalising only puts that at risk.
3. Britain’s trains are forcing Brits to innovate
— Metro (@MetroUK) January 27, 2016
No one can say the British aren’t innovative, and Britain’s trains certainly are forcing Brits to adapt in intriguing ways. This example shows us the British genius at work, as a lad discovers flying into Merkel’s lair and back is a cheaper way of making the relatively short journey from Sheffield to London than taking the train.
2. We’re proving to Europe what individuals we are
my train ticket is literally €1 and now I'm super mad about how expensive British trains are. pic.twitter.com/3TXij9oQZ1
— Rachel Megan Barker (@rachellybee) September 22, 2017
Theresa May has not had an easy time convincing the EU that Britain is a special case, but one look at how unnecessarily extortionate British public transport is might just put them on edge and convince them that we’re capable of anything.
1. It’s like a moving museum
— CityMetric (@CityMetric) October 6, 2017
Fans of antiques must surely get sick of being told to ‘look but not touch’, so what an incredible opportunity Britain’s rail networks offer in allowing people to not just get their hands on antiques but actually travel around on some. It’s also important to learn from history, and how could you not be left feeling humbled by Britain’s trains when all they do is constantly remind you of how slow, inefficient and ugly life used to be?