“Last year I was stuck in traffic in New York, and realised I wasn’t going to make it to an interview about climate change at the agreed time,” Virgin billionaire Richard Branson wrote on his blog this week.
“I jumped out of the car and ran down the sweltering Manhattan street as fast as I could go, running 15 blocks to Rockefeller Plaza. We made it a few minutes before our slot. I was sweaty – but I wasn’t late! There’s very little that annoys me in life, but people turning up late really does irritate me.”
Punctuality, he concludes, “shows you are serious, and it shows you are organised. But, most importantly, it shows you are respectful of other people’s time and their value.”
Branson then posted a picture of himself running down said New York street along with a quote preaching about how much he hates lateness.
But, of course, everyone has been thinking the exact same thing: Branson is in charge of the famously late (and exorbitantly expensive) Virgin train network.
In 2016-17, passengers lost at least 3.6m hours due to significantly delayed trains, according to the consumer group Which?
And it found Virgin Trains East Coast (jointly owned by Virgin Group and Stagecoach) had the highest proportion of significant delays, with 3.7% of its services running between 30 minutes and two hours late. This was followed by Virgin Trains West Coast (2%).
Twitter, as you’d expect, had plenty to say about Branson and his lateness comments:
As ridiculously jarring as Branson’s comments are, there is a serious side to this, too. Labour has vowed to renationalise the railways if they make it into government because of poor service and high prices across the country’s rail networks.
“Building an economy for the many also means bringing ownership and control of the utilities and key services into the hands of people who use and work in them. Rail, water, energy, Royal Mail: we’re taking them back,” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said at the party’s annual conference in Brighton last year.
So enjoy your choo choos while you still can, Richie!
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