The keeper of the Conch

You may have seen in the media the past few weeks that Virgin Trains(founded by Richard Branson) lost the West Coast train contract to First.  Branson was understandably annoyed, and it didn't take long for him to vent his anger.  Having travelled the West Coast line countless times to visit my family, I along with many other passengers, will certainly be affected by this decision.

But here's the catch.  From what I have gleaned from the media(online and newspapers), somebody somewhere started a petition against this change.  Through the means of social networking this has now gathered over 100,000 signatures.  This means it will have to be discussed in parliament.  The final decision on this is due in the next few days, but for now, here is the situation as I see it.

Richard Branson is a very rich man.  This contract would have lost him a great deal of money.  However he still has many other sources of income - Virgin money, mobile, phones, an airline, internet provision, and more.  Instead of handling the outcome with good grace and appreciation, that he has had the contract for such a long time, he has publicly slated First.  Urging others to sign the above petition, instead of coming across as a slick, polished businessman, his behaviour smacks of a sulking toddler.

All the bitching and backstabbing reeks of the playground.  The big boys, popular with no need for anything, rounding on the smaller outsider who has made good. I can identify with First, I've been the outsider and am proud to not be one of life's sheep who follows the crowd.

It seems in the last few years, the slightest thing has to happen for someone to set up an online petition against it.  I'm all for freedom of speech, but whatever happened to tolerance?  I know no decision can ever please all parties involved, but in 2012 people no longer seem to hide their scathing views of others, seemingly relishing in unleashing a stream of vitriol at others - without care or consideration to the individual it is aimed at.

I'm well aware of the huge volumes of people who have signed the petition, and I'm sure some people will read this post and disagree vehemently with me.  But having travelled the line with Virgin and with First, I -somewhat controversially-think the right decision has been made.  I have had many more cancelled and overcrowded trains with Virgin than I have with First.  Okay First trains may not be as shiny and bright as Virgin's, their luggage racks may leave a lot to be desired, but their services generally run on time, the prices are reasonable(cheap tickets fairly good to come by), and the staff are friendly.

Anyone who has read William Golding's Lord of the Flies will recognise a theme here - plain old fashioned bullying.  The gang leader, furious at his place at the top of the table being ousted, is determined for revenge.  Who knows what the next few days will bring with regards to this contract.  But I, and I would like to think many others who have felt not part of the 'in crowd' at any point of their lives, am crossing my fingers for a victory for the outsider...


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