A parliamentary sub-committe today reported that mile per mile, rail travel in the UK was more expensive than space travel on the space shuttle, and a good deal less comfortable, whilst being infinitely more unreliable.
The UK rail network, currently running 100% late, if at all, was widely criticised by MP's who rarely if ever use trains at all.
"You can't even buy a ticket at most stations," one MP grumbled. "It's all ticket machines with touch screens which the elderly and the blind find almost impossible to work out. Then when they attempt to buy a ticket on the train they get a £25 spot fine for travelling without a ticket. It's outrageous."
Rail Watchdog official Casey Jones, of Boreham Wood told the committee:
"Just out of curiosity, I checked the price of a First Class Anytime Return ticket from Southampton Central to Manchester Piccadilly and was astonished to find that it was priced at a whopping £998.99 with a £1.01 handling fee. I could fly economy from Heathrow to New York and back TWICE for that amount. It's scandalous."
Speaking up for the railway franchises, Sir Robin Bastard told the committee:
"It may be true that mile per mile, space travel works out cheaper than travelling on the UK rail network, but you don't get the same life affirming experience on the space shuttle that you get on the rail network.
"We provide dirty, late running, overcrowded travelling conditions where finding a seat is an impossibility. Our toilet facilities are probably the worst in the world, ankle deep in piss and blood with the pans blocked with half a ton of sodden toilet tissue. Only on these overcrowded trains can you find yourself jammed nose to nose with somebody who's been out on the drink and eaten copious anmounts of garlic the night before so that their breath stinks like something long dead.
"We also have some of the most unscrupulous criminals on the planet, who prey on the weak and the vulnerable, robbing, beating, and raping at will. They don't discriminate. Male and female are equally susceptible to their homicidal whims.
"We also have a disproportionate number of people who insist on shouting into mobile phones much to the annoyance of their fellow passengers. These people would challenge the patience of a saint.
"Some people may consider all of the above to be an outrageous case of unscrupulous customer exploitation. We prefer to think of it as character building."
The hearings continue.