Tom Richmond: Government backtracks over EU rail relief

IS it any wonder that this Government is held in such low regard when its sole purpose appears to be over-complicating the most simple of matters?

Take the EU's consumer protection laws and their impact on rail travellers. For once, Brussels is acting in the best – and financial – interests of passengers.

It drew up rules two years ago to increase the amount of compensation passengers are entitled to receive if their train is more than an hour late. Simple. Poor service should be penalised.

If a train is more than two hours late, travellers can reclaim half the

cost of the ticket – or a full refund if they had to cancel their trip. Again, a victory for consumerism.

And, furthermore, free refreshments will have to be provided for stranded passengers – rather than them having to fork out for the rail industry's over-inflated prices. Again, common sense prevailing.

Despite this, the Government has only just started consulting interested groups about the measures. It cannot say when the EU measures will be implemented, presumably because Ministers know that it will hit the train operating companies in the pocket.

It should not come to this. All the EU is attempting to do is ensure that the first-class standard of service experienced across the Continent is replicated here. And, if the Government is serious about transforming the railways, it should be embracing such rules – rather than prevaricating about their introduction.

It shouldn't have anything to fear from them if the railways are that good. It's that simple.

GEORGE Osborne's coyness over Tory economic policy is continuing to cause alarm as the country decides whether the nation's finances can be entrusted to a 38-year-old novice.

For some time, I have identified the Shadow Chancellor as the Conservative's "weakest link" – the millionaire's protestations

that "we're all in this together" is laughable – and the British Bankers' Association has now done likewise.

It says: "We want to see more of the plans for economic recovery...we would like to have more understanding of what is being proposed?"

The author was one-time Sheffield councillor Angela Knight. And its significance? She was a Treasury minister in the last Conservative government. She should know.

AFTER I expressed concern last week at the failings of primary schools, Shipley MP Philip Davies came up with an interesting take on the merits of league tables.

"They give a perverse incentive to schools not properly to stretch the people at the very top or focus sufficiently on those at the very bottom, but instead to concentrate all their resources on the borderline students," he said. "Surely schools should be encouraged to allow children to reach their full potential irrespective of their ability."

His request for a government debate was, predictably, rejected by Ministers. Their justification? An incoherent rant about Labour investment versus Tory cuts.

IT'S not just Pudsey Tory candidate Stuart Andrew who is keeping "mum" about the Leeds bin strike.

So, too, is Leeds City Council's propaganda sheet delivered last Sunday.

The only mention of the dispute were a few paragraphs saying recycling collections had resumed.

What people really want is a refund for the non-collections (paid for in their council tax bills) rather than a copy of About Leeds, a 16-page exercise in self-justification – and self promotion.

THE environmentalists just don't get it, do they?

Within hours of the announcement that South Yorkshire is to pioneer the latest nuclear technology, Yorkshire CND were condemning the move – despite the jobs dividend.

"We do not want this development anywhere in the country, let alone Yorkshire," said convenor Dave Webb.

I'm sure he'll be reminded of such short-sighted remarks when the lights go out because of the country's over-dependence on inefficient wind turbines.

THE sleepless nights preparing for Copenhagen clearly got to Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary and Doncaster MP. During an interview on the Today programme, he referred to the presenter John Humphrys as "Jonathan".

A WEEK after the World Cup draw, am I the only football fan fed up with the assumption that England only have to turn up in South Africa to win the tournament – and the interminable pontificating about the

possibility of Fabio Capello's squad containing a 34-year-old self-publicist and self-obsessed bit-part player, bereft of pace, and who is well past his sell-by date?

To think that we will have another seven months of this until the kick off...

WORLD champion diver Tom Daley is the youngest person to be shortlisted for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, which is being held in

Sheffield tomorrow.

With one eye on the ladies, the 15-year-old managed to persuade Kate Moss to help him fulfil an assignment for his GCSE art course. Who can blame the lad?

But, more profoundly, he says his project was inspired by Yorkshire artist David Hockney, who will be one of the Today programme's guest editors this Christmas where he will argue that there are too many laws.

Proof that Hockney's legacy is likely to be far more longer lasting than many of today's "here today, gone tomorrow" sports stars.