The government's sort of emergency nationalisation of the railways has cost it, and therefore us, a staggering £3.5bn so far, as the mess of coronavirus ratchets the good old national debt up by yet more unimaginable piles of money.
The government took over the cost of running the rail network's current barebones, key-travel timetables via Emergency Measures Agreements with the franchise holders back in March, freeing the operators from having to worry about things like staff bills and costs, transferring the meagre ticket revenues to the government in return, as the nation as a whole was forced to sit outside a metaphorical station on a metaphorical train and wait for life to start moving again.
The figure was revealed by junior transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris, and the number is expected to rise further, as the rail industry is lobbying frantically for an extension to the terms of the six month deal. Because it's unlikely that we'll be at anything like normal train travel levels by the end of September, even if we're all masked and forcefully full-body lubricated with a tangy alcohol rub at station entry. [Reuters]