i Editor's Letter: Why couldn't the Chancellor sit in a quiet carriage?


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The Independent Online


I don't actually agree with first-class carriages. On Southern's London commuter services, they have become more or less meaningless. The trains are so crowded during the rush hour, you're doing well if you can manage to squeeze yourself inside the door, let alone fight your way through to a first-class seat.

However, I'm fairly certain that most people believe that if you want to travel first-class, you should pay the appropriate fare.

So what on earth was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, doing sitting in a first-class carriage if he had a second-class ticket? And why did his adviser think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer "could not possibly sit in second class"?

Does Mr Osborne have some medical condition of which we are unaware; an allergy, perhaps, to second-class carriage upholstery or – dare I say it – the plebeian classes? After all, the rest of us seem to manage a daily stint in second class without exhibiting any evidence of deep psychological scarring.

Even if he wanted to work, Mr Osborne could have booked a seat in a "quiet carriage", where the shrill summons of mobile phones and the loud querulous conversations of their owners are encouraged to fall silent.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, of all people, should be aware that everything has its price, and the price of first class is more than the price of second class. It's not exactly GCSE maths.

There is one consoling thought in all this. At a time when our legal system seems to be developing all sorts of anomalies in order to accommodate a variety of political sensitivities, it is comforting to see that on Virgin Trains at least, everyone is treated equally.

Stefano Hatfield is back on Monday

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