A reader currently working in Germany comments on ‘Railgate/Traingate’
I watched a news video about this on Tuesday and followed it up further, so at the same time as the exceedingly highly commented-on Guardian article and I was able to watch the Newsnight piece already with some confidence about my knowledge of the story thus far.
Occasionally I like to look at a story in more depth to see if I can find evidence either way, find errors (or lies) etc. From the original news video I checked the gps data and found it matched a position still in London, close to Crystal Palace, so indeed about 10 minutes in, and again about a minute later.
I would not have described the train as ‘ram-packed’ (or jam-packed), but apparently the seat reservations are normally shown on electronic displays and the paper cards are only used when the displays are not functioning in a carriage. Thus, we possibly cannot make the distinction between reserved and unreserved free seats in the way Virgin claim either. Jeremy may well have passed individual unreserved seats on his way up the train, but when in a group of people you would generally try further up first anyway.
So, he allowed himself to be filmed and photographed, and he said what he said before being found a seat by staff who had upgraded other passengers to first class. I found it a bit strange for him to say so early on that the staff had been marvellous, but I guess it’s part of being conscious of the blame culture and warding it off pre-emptively.
All of this before the train’s first stop in far-away York (this particular train gets up north quite a bit faster than the one leaving 30 mins earlier by not stopping). If the staff do generally spend over half an hour getting passengers into untaken reserved seats (first and second class) while the train ‘makes progress’, then indeed, good on them!
So, overall it seems a bit unkind to have ‘taken a stand’ on that particular train, but Evan Davis was marvellous at the beginning of his Newsnight piece, saying that the media often try and film something which manages to evade them, and the media then like to use weasel words such as “trains like this are often jam-packed” (paraphrased from memory) so that they can use the story anyway.
However, it also seems to me that believer and non-believer camps are increasingly beyond being interested in the ‘truth’ of any particular story. I this sense, any particular perceived truth is ‘convenient’ to your own position. Personally, I’d like that to change. So many sports have the concept that points may be scored against you too, but winning is an overall thing. It would be nice to see people being able to referee fairly (again?), even in situations where they have a personal preference, and concede points on the balanced merits.