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Stonegate fare-dodger: it wasn’t Paul Dacre

2 August 2014

The mystery is over. A man named Jonathan Burrows has been exposed as the Stonegate fare-dodger. Our own Charles Moore must share a train with this enterprising man. Back in April, Charles reported what the local gossips were saying:

Much speculation where we live about the identity of the Stonegate fare-dodger, one stop up our railway line. He recently paid £43,000 to Southeastern, the franchise holder, to escape criminal charges after five years of constant cheating on his daily commute to London. Obviously no suspicion falls on such fine local citizens as my fellow former editor of this paper, Dominic Lawson, who uses the station, or the great writer Adam Nicolson, or the distinguished actor Robert Bathurst. It would be appalling lèse-majesté if aspersions were to be cast on Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, who lives nearby. The guilty man is reported to be a hedge-fund manager. There is anger that he has bought anonymity by paying up in full when caught. Because he is unnamed, all the no-doubt numerous, blameless hedge-fund managers who commute from Stonegate are being made to feel awkward. Television cameras film the station. Gossip keeps identifying suspects (‘Can’t be anyone from the village: must be someone from the Heathfield direction.’ ‘What about X? Oh no, can’t be him: he always goes by helicopter.’) Possibly the resentment is tinged with envy that he travelled free for so long. The fact that it costs £43,000 to go to London five times a week for five years is the most shocking part of the story.


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Show comments
  • samyar

    Southeastern Trains must be a well-managed company if they can afford to let that sort of revenue go begging …

    کرکره برقی

    کرکره برقی
    درب پارکینگ

    کرکره برقی

    درب اتوماتیک

  • davidshort10

    Only a publication managed by Andrew ‘Brillo Pad’ Neill would ask its readers to pay more when we know the facts anyway. I am a subscriber on Kindle as it is the cheapest way of having access to the good writers who still contribute to the Spectator despite having such a vulgarian as the boss. If I wanted to know more about this man, I could find it out for free. I suspect he is a much nicer man than the one who teamed up with Rupert Murdoch to destroy the wonderful Sunday Times that had been crafted by Harold Evans. I suspect he earns a lot more money than the 50,000 pieces of silver with which Murdoch bought Brillo and I suspect Evans is much richer too, as well as having a fragrant and successful wife.

  • Seldom Seen

    Southeastern Trains must be a well-managed company if they can afford to let that sort of revenue go begging …

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “The fact that it costs £43,000 to go to London five times a week for five years is the most shocking part of the story.”
    So true, so knee-bucklingly true. But then you Brits are accustomed to being ripped-off. Not like it’s an HS2 train that’s clean and punctual.
    Jack, Japan Alps

  • Nick

    Don’t know the guy although I know his house. He will have to get used to the idea that every time he walks into one of the Ticehurst/Burwash shops or pubs, everybody else is going to shout “Tickets, please!” Idiot.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    I travel on that line from time to time and my ticket is usually checked several times on every journey into London. In respect of his ability to dodge the inspector for years he might be described as ‘enterprising’. Others might think him dishonest.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    Now to get those two Council Tax dodging councillors named…

    • Ordinaryman

      Definitely yes! Voters have a right to know what sort of people they are electing. Hasn’t this fundamental fact reached the dizzy heights of the ivory tower the judiciary are perched on?

    • Ron Todd

      There should be a full investigation into all their financial dealings and into their election to make sure there was no irregularities in the vote.

  • Roger Hudson

    Remember how one fiddled ticked ruined Dr. Joad, when the BBC was a pillar of rectitude. We live in far worse times today.

  • mitate

    nice little station, stonegate. all it lacks is a steam engine and some leather-strapped carriages. ah, those were the sane, not to mention honest, days.

  • Alexsandr

    firstly, why do people think they have the right to live miles from their job and not pay the true cost of the journey. If you dont want to pay that sort of money move closer to work.
    But why did the train company not seek to prosecute this theif. fare dodgers put up the cost of travel for everyone. If he had driven away from a petrol station then he would have been condemned.

    we have put up the cost of our railways by demanding absolute safety. We cannot accept the concept of working out how many lives a safety measure will costs and how many lives it will save -we must have safety at all cost. But airlines use cost per saved life for deciding on implementing safety measures. or overflying war zones.
    we scrapped much of the rolling stock on commuter railways and bought new ones because of the Cannon street rail crash. 2 people died there. How many die on the roads each year? Pure knee jerk reaction.
    so trains are expensive, causing people to make the decision to drive, a much more dangerous activity,

    • monty61

      We have put up the cost of our railways by flogging them cheaply and chaotically, after decades of chronic under-investment, in 1994, when they were given over to a bunch of unscrupulous, rent-seeking organisations who have ramped fares mercilessly in an environment of very light touch regulation.

      Our trains are consequently the most expensive in Europe while services have barely improved.

      • Alexsandr

        nice rant but poorly researched.

        most rail expenditure is by the infrastructure company, network rail which is public sector. OK they pretended it wasnt public sector for some time but it really was ever since Railtrack was decapitated by Stephen Byers. And all the rail investment previously considered off the governments balance sheet is now in the PSBR where it should be.

        TOC’s are not franchises like the usual franchise model, but are really management agents for the DfT, who micromanage the day to day railway to an astonishing degree. Their costs are largely fixed -train leases and network rail access charges. And the trains they use is specified by the DfT in franchise agreements.

        The ROSCOs use their money to buy and improve trains. Various investigations have shown that their lease charges are reasonable. If you want new and improved trains you have to pay for it.

        now you could probably do it cheaper by directly funding the whole investment from the Treasury. But they are skint, and the railways would have to compete for investment funds with other government expenditure. Which is why the railways didn’t flourish when nationalised -they were denied the funds they needed.

        When comparing with Europe, you need to also consider the level of subsidy of the foreign railways by national governments. Whether rail journeys should be paid for with fares or out of taxation is a political point. That depends whether you consider rail usage benefits the non rail using public. When I see a full train whizzing past a full M1 near Watford Gap, think how the motorway would be if all those 700 people were driving instead. Then a train passes with 30 containers. so thats another 30 lorries.

        • Alexsandr

          while on the subject of railways, can we finally put HS2 out of its misery. Intercity demand is largely flat, regional rail is growing very slowly (tho i would like to see the rural railways and communting into cities reported separately) while London and south East is growing nicely.
          So HS2 is the wrong project at the wrong time. The money should be spent improving the commuter railways. And the one under most pressure is the lines out of Waterloo. But I suspect that lines into Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester are also in need of tarting up but I dont have the data.

          • Alexsandr

            to be fair they are putting in a passing loop on the birmingham – reddicth like to allow trains from redditch every 20 mins instead of 30.

    • CortUK

      How are you defining “true” cost?

      • Alexsandr

        well look how much the taxpayer pays to subsidise train travel. You could argue that should be got through fares. (But that would decimate the railway as price elasticy would make much of the network unviable. And closing the branches hurts the main lines affecting their viability.) But that is a political decision. The subsidy is decided by the DfT.

        and commuters who travel in peak times cost the railway a lot. Much of the facilities and rollings stock are only used at capacity for 4 hours each day -the rest of the time it just lies idle. Which is why peak fares are more expensive than off peak. Then commuters expect a discount by buying a season ticket which is a lot cheaper than buying tickets every day.

    • Sean L

      Yes and we could apply the same logic to the demise of the Routemaster London bus. Except I’m not aware of *anyone* being killed jumping on or off the bus. We now pay far more for a far slower method of transport with no advantage other than mechanical wheel chair access, a service formerly offered by the now obsolete bus conductor anyway.

      • Alexsandr

        well there is the argument that disabled people should not use the railway. The stuff put in at stations and on the trains is hugely expensive so its proboaly cheaper to offer them a disabled taxi.
        Look at the 12 car trains used between Euston and Noethampton. These are 3 x 4car units so they have 3 disabled toilets, which are huge, How many seats could you provide in all that space. Not to mention the cost of having to comply with loads of other disability regs.

        • Sean L

          Yes and you could probably supply every disabled person with their own chauffer driven Bentley for a fraction of the cost of disabled facilites considered in their totality and accounting for their opportunity costs. But that would violate egalitarian ideology, its animating principle.

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