Great Train Snobbery! George Osborne embarrassment after sitting in first class with standard-class ticket


It is being dubbed the Great Train Snobbery or simply – and perhaps predictably – ticketgate.

George Osborne was facing acute embarrassment last night after his aides were caught demanding he be allowed to sit in a first-class train carriage with a standard-class ticket.

The Chancellor boarded the Virgin train to London at his constituency stop of Wilmslow with his aides. But rather than turn to sit in the second-class carriage for which he'd paid, Mr Osborne went right and took his place in the more salubrious and less crowded first-class carriage.

And there he remained until he was accosted by a ticket inspector who demanded he pay the £160 surcharge for first class. The contretemps might never have come to light if it had not been for an alert television journalist who happened to be sitting near by.

In a series of updates via Twitter, Rachel Townsend, who works for Granada News, wrote: "Very interesting train journey to Euston Chancellor George Osborne just got on at Wilmslow with a STANDARD ticket and he has sat in FIRST CLASS."

As news of Mr Osborne's embarrassment broke journalists rushed to get to Euston station in time to meet his train. A shaken-looking Chancellor decided not to use the public exit from the platform, which would have led him to the packed waiting area, instead walking through a security gate. But he failed to escape reporters who repeatedly asked him why he "could not just travel in standard class like everyone else".

He refused to answer – glared at reporters – and carried on walking. One journalist was manhandled out of the way by a man accompanying Mr Osborne. Keith Young, 60, a physician from London, was on the train. He said: "He had no right to make a standoff. Why did he buy a standard ticket [if he wanted to sit in first class]?"

Justin Bateman, 34, a civil servant from Manchester, added: "Fair's fair, he should be saving the taxpayer money. But definitely, he should not be sitting in first class."

The timing of the incident could not be worse for the Chancellor already under attack from Labour – and even his own backbenchers – for being an "out of touch rich-boy".

The incident happened on Virgin Trains – which was controversially stripped of the right to run the franchise before the Government admitted to serious mistakes in the franchise process. Labour seized on the row, with shadow Cabinet Officer minister Michael Dugher saying: "Another day, another demonstration of how out of touch this Government is. Just like Andrew Mitchell, George Osborne obviously thinks it's one rule for him and another for the plebs he's so keen to sit apart from. So much for 'we're all in it together'."

Bob Crow, leader of the RMT rail union, said: "This says it all about this rotten Government. Here we have a millionaire Chancellor who thinks he's above the normal rules and laws."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own