Last week I purchased a First Class train ticket to Leeds, which should have cost £103, for FREE.
This was through the East Coast Rewards Scheme, where regular customers accrue points to spend on future journeys and other perks.
The East Coast mainline is currently run by a subsidy of the government’s Directly Operated Railways, set up in 2009 when the private company managing the line, National Express East Coast, couldn’t deliver the service any more. Since then, East Coast has made substantial profits, which have gone to the Treasury rather than shareholders.
There’s a whole potted history here (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/09/state-owned-east-coast-rail-franchise-paid-225m-pounds-treasury-still-faces-privatisation) – thanks Guardian.
I feel personally angry about this as a frequent user of this train line and somebody who thinks privatisation of services is generally A Bad Thing. So I started trying to find out if any action was planned, or if there was an active movement I could get involved with.
Short of a few petitions (see the bottom of this post), not much seems to have happened since a number of days of action in 2013. So what to do?
I thought about the legitimacy issue discussed in class that week – what if I refused to recognise the new private company as a legitimate entity and not pay my fare?! Would that be a good defence if I were to be prosecuted? Would it get some press, or a laugh from the conductor at least? It led to some interesting conversations when I travelled north that weekend.
In the end I just shared the petitions on my Facebook wall. Any better ideas?