Blaise Tapp: About time we got a rail service we deserve

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There are occasions when the art of spin leaves the masses dumbfounded.

It is now nearly 13 years since many of us were sucked in by the most famous piece of spin ever – the infamous ‘dodgy dossier’ which convinced a nation to go to war in Iraq, a document which helped change the public’s perception of politicians and their advisers forever.

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But while we may now be acutely aware of the double speak and the tricks used by those in debating chambers and the corridors of power, spin is sadly very much part of daily life.

Much of the advertising and marketing which we are exposed to on a constant basis is spin in its purest form even though we are assured these are heavily regulated industries.

I like to think that after a career of being bombarded with nonsense sales pitches and tackling forked tongued politicians that I can spot a whopper and an outrageous piece of spin from a mile off.

But it still doesn’t stop me being hugely offended by crass attempts to dupe both me and my fellow consumers.

A recent example of this came last week when rail operators and Network Rail triumphantly announced that their fares for 2016 were rising by just 1.1 per cent – the lowest increase in six years.

You don’t have to dig very deep under that shameful headline to understand that how much we have had our pants pulled down over rail fares. The passenger group the Campaign for Better Transport says that ticket prices have risen as much as 25 per cent in five years.

Apart from Wayne Rooney’s salary, nothing has shot up so dramatically as the cost of a train ticket has over the past half decade. Those commuting into London from the South East face season ticket costs of £5,000 and there is every likelihood that you will be stood up next to the toilets for the duration.

Yes, cheap rail travel is available but you do have to hunt for it and book in 
advance – if you decide you need to catch a train from London Euston to Manchester tonight it will cost you up to £164.50.

If you can be bothered driving then a full tank should do that return journey and, even with the cost of tolls and a bargain bucket or two on the M6, you would save at least £70. Granted, train travel isn’t half as stressful as the turgid lottery of a motorway journey but it is more complicated.

As an occasional rail user who has had the need to make the odd single journey, I still get incensed when I am reminded that a return ticket would have cost me 30p more.

That and the fact that our growing army of part time workers still can’t get a season ticket for a fair price shows that we have a long way to go before we get the rail service we deserve.

Not even the most dastardly spin doctors in the land could convince us that is already the case.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson. Chris Radburn/PA Wire

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