“We’ve seen horrible things over the years,” actor Robert De Niro told CNN this week, adding that the Trump presidency is “one of the worst that I have ever seen and ever thought I would see”.
Clearly he’s not been trying to get on a train to Fife in the last week or so.
These Monday Matters columns can sometimes be serious, sometimes light hearted, and always aim to be topical. So it concerned me slightly that when I was racking my brains for a subject matter this week, I found myself back to raging about the railways.
“I’m pretty sure I’ve written four or five on ScotRail,” I thought to myself, recalling gripes about a lack of carriages, a lack of space, high fares and even a lament about what visitors must think of our second-rate service.
But Christmas is all about excess, ladies and gents, so it seems only right that the gift that keeps on giving has managed to tick all those boxes just in time for the big day.
The bottom line is — it’s an utter shambles and it simply can’t continue.
I appreciate that unforeseen things can disrupt the network and have a knock-on effect elsewhere.
But with prices going up next week, the catalogue of failures we’ve seen in the past few days alone has felt all the more bitter. Take last week and someone I know who was trying to get home from Glasgow.
The plan was to change at Haymarket to get into Kirkcaldy and catch the express bus home five minutes later.
The string of messages I received from the hardy traveller made me chuckle before making my blood boil.
“Haymarket Station is like the (expletive deleted) Hunger Games.”
“There’s an air of violence here on the platform. Who’ll get on the train? Who’ll be left behind??”
“Conductor now chapping on window to get folk to move along crowded train. Shouting for someone to swap with a heavily pregnant woman to give her a seat. Not for courtesy, her belly taking up precious commuter space.”
It might seem funny in hindsight, but all of these trains were packed, with folk spending a lot of money on each ticket.
A quick calculation for that particular journey: Two carriages, 60 seats per carriage plus about 20 per carriage standing.
Say £8 a fare average, and that’s a cheap estimate, and that gives you approximately £1,280.
That’s one train on one route and it begs one simple question: where is the money going?
In the week when Jose Mourinho was shown the door for not meeting the standard expected by Manchester United, most Scots would probably agree that those in charge of our rail services are overdue a red card as well.