Monday 3 November 2008

Ministerial training

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has apparently upset some passenger groups by suggesting half-term overcrowding on trains was a “good thing”.

Speaking to a select committee Hoon claimed he was enthusiastic about the fact that lots of people were using trains.

The comment came after being quizzed by an MP about long, painful journeys on rammed trains up and down the UK.

A little context is needed – he also said the situation was unacceptable and that the Government was ploughing billions of pounds into buying more train carriages to tackle the problem.

So should passenger groups be annoyed given the context? I guess it depends on how badly affected by train overcrowding you are.

But it is a typical example of how ministers will try and have it both ways in their answers – even when acknowledging something inherently bad, they always try and find the positive.

Having had a tough time of it when he was at the Ministry of Defence the Ashfield MP knows he won’t always get away with doing that.

Now that the Department for Transport could be facing a rebellion over an additional Heathrow runway the future looks stormy.

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