Some of you may have read that First Great Western's passengers are planning a Fare Strike. You can find out about it here , for example
Voicing dissatisfaction is all well and good, but hang on. Fatalities on the line? Floods? You can't blame FGW for that. Overcrowding? Not just FGW at fault. And - see my last railway rant - it was Southern who threw their passengers out into the cold and sent the train on fast. At least, in my experience, FGW staff are generally very polite and helpful when there is a problem.
My biggest problem with all this however is that the organisers state "persauding the government to take back the franchise" as one of their aims.
Hang on a minute. This is the same government whose Deparment for Transport has caused well documented problems for FGW by messing about with rolling stock allocation.
The same government whose demand for large franchise payments has been a significant factor in recent fare rises. And does all this money get reinvested in the railways, or does it end up elsewhere in the big murky pot known as 'government spending' (in which case it's another tax)? I'm not certain, but I think I know the answer...*
And finally, this is the same government who are currently threatening a cut in public spending at the next budget.
So who in their right mind would want them to take the franchise back?
The problem here is that this could be seen as a black and white 'privatisation or not' argument, which it isn't. Whichever side of that fence you stand there are pros and cons, and it winds me up when rational people, who ordinarily would stand back and consider the wider picture, feel that at all costs the grass is greener with the government. It's a blinkered, intolerant "private companies are bad" mentality which leads to the weird belief that despite their track record** in other areas the government would be perfect at running the railway.
There might have been problems with the post-privatisation era (possibly stemming from the way in which it was implemented), but governments of both persuasions were previously to blame for years of chronic under-investment. At the end of the day I don't care how the job is done, I just want it done properly. Personally I blame the government for the fact that it has not been the case for a while, and I find it hard to go running to them now for a solution.
*Northern Rock. Or people who eat too much, by the looks of things.
**Excuse the pun.