Hot on the heels of the Olympic we have been given yet another firmly entrenched tradition which will unite the nation. This time it's not a good one, in fact it a horrible and universally unpopular one. I am of course referring to the great annual railway robbery.
Privatisation is often blamed for the shortcomings of Britain's railways. This is unfair. Genuine privatisation never happened. Nominal ownership may have been transferred to the private sector, but the government remains firmly in control.
My wife and I arrived at Paddington railway station on Sunday lunchtime after a wet cold weekend in London. We were at the head of the queue entering the platform to board the train to Exeter. As I walked along the platform I counted three first class carriages out of a total of eight.