Is now the time to get on at 0.58/1?
The above appeared in the Times earlier in the week and I have kept it to one side because of the missing CD-roms story which has dominated everything.
Ken Livingstone’s brilliant ability as a politician is to find a simple, easy to understand issue ahead of an election and make that the main plank of his campaign. He also knows that the issue that’s central to voters in a vast conurbation where most people do not use cars to get about is public transport.
So the news in the Times about his plan to bring closer into public control commuter rail services that terminate in London looks as though it could be a winner. In one simple move Ken would be undermining one of the central elements of rail privatisation – the ability of the companies to set their fares.
Rail privatisation has always been a major issue that Labour has been nervous about tackling. Yes there was the Railtrack take-over but the core structure devised by the Tories has remained. Could Ken’s plan for London reverse a decade and a half of transport policy?
But why does London’s mayor spoil it by making dumb comments that look as though he is supporting fare dodgers?
In one comment, according to the report, Ken accused the train firms of what he described as a “scam” to increase profits.
He’s quoted as saying â€œItâ€™s disgraceful the way train companies have stationed revenue staff at stations where there is an interchange with the London Underground so they can fine people using Oyster cards.â€
A “scam”? Eh?. What the firms are doing is taking measures to stop fare dodging at one of the weak points in the system when people have TfL’s “Oyster card”. In many interchanges you can get off a train and go onto the tube without passing through a ticket barrier.
Betfair now have a market on the mayoralty. Ken is the 0.58/1 favourite which looks like good value.