The #Traingate spat between Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Branson hovers on the edge of farce, but there is a serious side to it.
I count myself among those who do not give a fart whether or not there were empty seats available before JC sat on the floor.
The central fact is this: crowded trains are unsafe.
If the aisles are packed with standing people and the driver has to make an emergency stop, the mass of the people in the aisles has momentum, and that momentum, applied throughout the length of the carriage, can break bones and even crush someone to death. It is a Hillsborough waiting to happen.
Sure, people can be injured by someone in the seat opposite being thrown onto them in a crash; but let me say as a doctor that their injuries will be worse if 50 people are thrown onto them in a crash.
Standing is inevitable at certain times in the day. There must be statistics about this. The response should be to drive down standing time as fully as possible, without unnecessarily driving up empty seats in non-rush hours. This requires flexibility, sticking on extra carriages and trains to meet rush hours. Playing about with trains is good work, and should benefit from Green Wage Subsidy, GWS.
If the train companies whine that they cannot afford to pay the wages of people whose work makes people happier and saver, then they should bloody well lose the franchise, next time it comes up, to a state operated competitor.