Star comment: Rail strikes will drive passengers away for good
The time is near when rail passengers will lose patience with both the striking workers and the train operators.
Ongoing strikes, designed to have the maximum impact on passengers, will soon wear away the support many gave the workers. Unions say they will hit the FA Cup Final and the Eurovision weekend, with the huge inconvenience and road congestion that will cause. For many, that will be the last straw and their sympathy with the strikers will be gone.
There is a wider issue here as well. In order to be effective, a rail system must be reilable and efficient. Britain’s is not. Whether it is strikes, staff shortages, signalling problems or scheduled maintenance, we now have a network that is not fit for purpose.
We cannot now buy a ticket confident that our train will run at all, let alone on time. That means many will simply abandon the railway and never come back.
The redistribution of wealth from workers to railways’ owners is at the heart of the industrial action. Workers feel they have a valid case as they see their earnings eroded by the cost of living crisis and find themselves in a worsened position. Owners, for their part, view changes to pay and conditions as a necessary step on the path to profitability. While other parties have come together and found common ground during an era of industrial action, both sides have become increasingly entrenched.
Neither will command the support of the wider British public, who are the ones who suffer most. Services are in dire need of investment and the reliability upon which trains depend has been shot.
The Black Country-born writer, actor and director Meera Syal was born into a life of disadvantage. It didn’t stop her.
She has overcome many challenges to become one of Britain’s most-loved figures. She grew up mostly in Essington in Staffordshire and thrived when she went to university, with her flair for drama. She speaks today of how she often felt invisible for many reasons – race, sex, and class being some of them. But her sheer determination and talent drove her on and she has brought us gems such as The Kumars At No 42 and Goodness Gracious Me.
Her success will be an inspiration to many and the Bafta award is a richly-deserved recognition of her influential role in British TV and theatre as well as reward for making millions of us laugh over the years.
She is an inspiration to many who has helped to improve the prospects of those who follow.