Dear Mr. Fat Controller...
Dear Mr. Fat Controller…

Dear Mr. Fat Controller or may I call you Fats?

I see that the train set you got for xmas is causing all kinds of problems again. People, or should I say ‘customers’ as you like to call the exhausted travellers are not happy as you put up the fares yet again and tell us about how happy they are as you and the government fleece them yet again.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being a bit perturbed and very much out of pocket due to your annual rise in train fairs. I know fare rises are one of those great British traditions that have long been part of the national calendar, like Xmas and the new year. It’s that sinking early January feeling that what one hand giveth with the festive cheer the other taketh away with robbing a bit more of everyone’s hard earned.

Every year you attempt to sneak up the rail fare rises in the post xmas period, hoping that everyone is either too fuzzy or too stressed to notice the slippery increases. I do understand Fats that these train sets can be expensive to maintain,- you have to buy new carriages now and then and maybe a bit of scenery and there are the usual corporate costs and money to be creamed off at the top- that’s how the world is.

When the train fares get their annual rise Government minsters are shunted around the news stations making the usual excuses about cost of running things and how it’s the fault of other long gone governments and yet we have the highest fares in Europe. Surely it’s expensive to own a train set in Germany or France as well?  And the train fares now in the UK are getting quite comical. It’s a lot of money to pay to stand on a train isn’t it Mr. Fat Controller?

Not that you ever have to stand, although you do like to tell us that, you too, catch the train to work but I think sitting in one of the several empty first class carriages with your free rail pass is a slightly different proposition from fighting your way across an overcrowded platform onto a packed train, then sitting down in the last available seats only to find that the computer has broken again and that it’s, in fact, a reserved seat. Maybe you don’t know about trying to buy a ticket in one of the ticket machines only to find out that they can be slightly more expensive than going to the endless queue at the ticket office or being told that lots of improvements have already been made to the ‘basic infrastructure’ of the rail network like at Birmingham New Station- a place where the word improvement is sat in a very baffling context.

Fats, I’m not one to complain, I can put up with the standing up, the bad service and the battling to get on the train if it was half as expensive as it is now. I could stand there with a fixed grin if I thought you were paying the staff properly but it’s the usual thing in rip off UK when you get that horrible feeling that the Duck House and Moat brigade are stuffing their pockets with the filthy loot and laughing at the passenger, sorry customer, who is getting hit with a travel tax as they make their way to work again after the xmas break.

It’s like this Fats, we don’t have a choice, we have to get use your licence to make money train set that you dribble and drool over. We can’t really complain and watch baffled as the stats of smiley happy clappy customers who have nothing to complain about goes up every year. You quote the most recent survey yet another increase in happy clappy travellers and we just laugh at you.


We all know Mr. Fats that the British are a stoic bunch- it’s Stiff Upper Lip and all that. They like to moan and complain and then put up with it. This is fortunate for you as you run the most expensive rail network in Europe and gloat about what a great job you are doing.


I’m not sure if you have ever travelled abroad Fats but the rail networks are great- please don’t give me your Pendelino bollocks- of course they look nicer than the old trains and go faster but if you are dumb enough to bring any luggage they are a joke- I’m not sure if you have ever wandered through the cattle class sections Fats but it would take some kind of superhuman effort to cram you cash filled suitcase into the miniscule luggage rack above the seats.


Well I think you got away with it again Fats, you could probably get away with it every week. You know there is nothing we can do as we get bulldozed by the corporates and your PR machine is working in overdrive and we have to stand there on the packed trains paying though the nose for the privilege of using your train set.


Yours well and truly out of pocket,

A traveller.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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