A number of councils in England are regularly buying ‘rough sleepers’ one-way train tickets, or ‘return tickets’ as Southern call them. The controversial policy of putting homeless on trains has been seen as a natural extension of the previous policy of giving tickets to the helpless, hopeless and the average Southern commuter – the reckless.
Many of those seen begging for change on street corners are merely finding ways to subsidize the cost of their season ticket. Explained one dishevelled commuter, ‘the moment you set foot on a train, you know you will never see friends and family again. The majority of those sleeping in shop doorways are simply shop workers too scared to go home via Southern Rail’.
Critics argue that we simply are ferrying ‘unwanted scum’ around the country, while others say – what else did you expect from ‘First Class’? With travellers ending in an unfamiliar destination, with no access to a support network or basic infrastructure; while others quite like Bognor.
There has been a 130% rise in homelessness over the last six years, which is nothing compared to the rise in rail fares. Sadly the public still complain when they are assaulted by wine-smelling, unwashed transients demanding loose change, although Southern have pledged to get rid of their on-board ticket collectors.