The slack, financially unviable, cherry-picking train companies, propped up by increasing amounts of public money lest they fall over like Railtrack, complain about increased violence to their staff but never wonder why. I’m not here to excuse physical violence to normally innocent train operatives, but I do think that a more reasonable analysis of the causes would help provide a holistic, directed, effective solution to the problem.
When train passengers are the victims, every day, of a good deal of misery-making by a system with no clear focus of responsibility, it’s no wonder some might be tempted to lash out. Those who don’t deserve it are typically the only point of contact: apart from such exceptions as doctor’s receptionists, the front line in the great battle of public service is collectively and individually innocent. So what the poor, hard-travelled consumers need is a clear target, something into which they can sink all the hot ire created by the experience of liberty after breathtaking liberty, that “public” transport companies take with them and their spare time.
Step forward, John “Penny for the track, guv?” Major and Two-fucking-Jags John Fucking Pres-fucking-cott. Well, chaps, it’s not quite a ducking-stool, but if you could just sit on this form over here on Didcot Parkway platforms 2–3, and as you can see it’s ergonomically designed so you can’t fall asleep on it like some sort of stinking tramp; then, close your eyes, stick out your chin, and let every passenger who passes you by give you a very special surprise….