Those hardy commuters of Kent and East Anglia must be wondering whether they will ever have to pay for their season tickets again, should the Tories return for a fourth term. John Major's much heralded Citizen's Charter will propose that when trains are 10 minutes late or more, passengers should be reimbursed with a free journey.
A cause for celebration on the platforms of Orpington, Colchester or Braintree maybe, but a nightmare scenario for BR chairman Sir Bob Reid. Management Today's back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that on the basis of BR's latest revenue and records for punctuality, the total bill could be as much as £270 million - equal to nearly half of its subsidy. Apart from the passengers, the only beneficiaries would be lawyers.
A BR spokesman says: "We'll have to determine who was to blame for any delays. Was it power failure, or a motorist stranded at a level crossing and such like?"
With the promise of bumper litigation, one wonders who is responsible for leaves on the line, that perennial autumn problem for many trains, or the more recent "wrong type of snow" that crippled BR this winter? Sir Bob will need all of his skill at motivating his staff to perform better.