Star comment: Half-price rail fares are the positive side of leadership

Initiative should see more of us letting the train take the strain.

Plans to halve some rail fares are welcome. They will help to ease the cost of living crisis, encourage people to use a more sustainable form of transport and also provide a boost to the domestic tourism market.

The Great British Rail Sale is an initiative with few down sides that provides evidence of a Government seeking to remain relevant and adapt to the state of our society.

There’s been a slew of bad news recently in terms of spiralling prices. The cost of energy has hit unimaginable levels and will rise further in October when the energy cap increases. The Chancellor’s attempt to assist by levying a 5p cut in fuel duty had a limited impact, given the quantum rise in prices.

Food bills are rising, the negative effects of Brexit are becoming clearer, while the issues surrounding the climate crisis are worsening, though the subject has slipped from the headlines following the Glasgow summit.

Against that backdrop, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps deserves some credit for his initiative. His plan to sell a million train tickets at lower prices will encourage people to use the railways in April and May. Who knows, it may lead to permanent lifestyle changes.

The sale is believed to be the first of its kind and shows a positive side of leadership.

We all remember how, two years ago, the Government showed similar ingenuity in creating Nightingale Hospitals. More recently, it has been mired in sleaze, never-ending revelations about Partygate and the unpopular Rwandan refugee plan.

Our Government should spend more time creating such positive initiatives as the rail fares sale while making good on its pledge to level up in such areas as the Midlands.

It may not be until the next General Election that the public get to have their say on Partygate.

Boris Johnson is due to face MPs today and will have yet more serious questions to answer. Partygate, it seems, will continue to undermine his efforts to move the agenda on - and while he will no doubt face some difficult questions from MPs, the looming local elections may indicate whether his premiership can survive.

Those elections, however, are not as significant in size or range as they might be and Mr Johnson has already indicated his determination to cling on.

It is clear he won’t resign and his own MPs are disinclined to move against him. Whether his last-minute trip to India is another distraction or attempt to evade Prime Minister’s Questions is open to debate. With the Sue Gray report still not published, the whole sorry saga seems destined to continue.

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