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Friday 26 October 2012

Guido Fawked – Wrong On Rail Travel Again

One should not expect too much in the way of expertise when it comes to the convocation of rail travel and the rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. After all, Zelo Street regulars will recall the magnificent idiocy of the odious flannelled fool Henry Cole, who, when faced with a choice of one station to catch his train from Edinburgh to London, went to the wrong one. It cost him an extra £130. Good.

Trains - difficult for some to understand

And the previous excursion of the Fawkes folks, Cole going after Labour MP Lisa Nandy, was equally unsuccessful, serving only to show that he doesn’t understand just how complex the system of advance fares can be – in Ms Nandy’s case, for journeys between her Wigan constituency and London. And today has brought another howler on rail expenses, this time for a Tory MP.

More brass than sense

This time, the role of Ron Hopeful is played by newly appointed teaboy Alex Wickham, who has been commanded to look though the IPSA database and find some dirt on MPs who are not the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet and suspected serial First Class seat blagger extraordinaire. He has turned up Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski.

The MP who only travels First Class” is the accusatory headline, followed by the assertion that all Kawczynski’s journeys claimed for under IPSA rules have been for First Class travel. And, a fact that may surprise seasoned watchers of the Fawkes blog well used to its routine dishonesty, this is correct. However – and there has to be a however for this rabble – Wickham has missed one very important caveat.

All of Kawczynski’s claims – like those of Lisa Nandy – have been allowed. So they must have fallen within the rules on rail travel, which are that the maximum allowable is the standard class open, or “Anytime” fare. Kawczynski travels from Euston to either Wolverhampton or Shrewsbury. The relevant single Anytime fare to the former is £83, and to the latter £98. Returns cost twice those amounts.

He's well under the Anytine fare throughout

So if Kawczynski’s claims are below those amounts, he is allowed to claim them. The closest he gets is one single from Euston to Wolverhampton which cost £75. Kawczynski is the tallest MP in Parliament, and the extra room in First Class is surely one reason he takes advantage of book ahead deals to travel in that part of the train. But the Fawkes blog is a long standing animus of his.

And that means putting the boot in whenever the opportunity presents itself, even if it merely shows what a bunch of amateurs the Fawkes rabble are. Meanwhile, Wickham shills for Osborne by pretending that he has said he travels in standard class, and that he “pays his own way”. Not if he blags a First Class seat without paying for it, he doesn’t – and that’s what he’s been caught trying to do.

So that’s another failed attempt at saying “look over there”. Another fine mess.


John Ruddy said...

Apparently, an earlier version of the story majored on the fact he was a Labour MP, whose party was having a go at Osborne for travelling first class.


Tim Fenton said...

Yes, I wasn't as quick as Laurence Durnan this morning.

I think the reason they didn't have a go at "Auguste" Balls, who also does book-ahead First, is because the Tel already did him.

Daft thing is that Kawczynski is very close to Staines' position on lots of issues. I don't agree with much of his politics, but he's doing nowt wrong with his travel expenses.

Anonymous said...

There is no first class on any train between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury ASFAIK.

Of course, the cheapest fares from London to Wolverhampton are with London Midland, when they can bother to run any trains at all...

allegoricus said...

I wonder who is Miss Information ... where does she stand?

Anonymous said...

Local student paper has picked up on the TPA version of this story.

... It's somewhat depressing. Their take seems to be that if the Advance 1st class fare is lower than the Anytime standard, people should be obliged to book and claim Advance standard fares only.

Tim Fenton said...


The local student paper is doing no more research than the Fawkes rabble.

There are times when the cheapest book ahead deal is in First Class - this is partly to do with the amount of FC accommodation on the Virgin Pendolino trains.

Anonymous said...

@6 I understand this, Mr. Fenton. I do wonder, given Mr. Cole's history, whether the writer in question might hope to seek employment with them at a later time. It seems a bit of a waste, frankly.


Tim Fenton said...


Always possible, although they'd have a long wait, as Alex Wickham has just been taken on by the Fawkes blog.

I don't disagree with your conclusion ;-)