No free pass to Cenotaph for veterans

The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph
The Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph

A former RAF engineer says London Midland should be offering free travel to veterans going to the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday.

Des Knowles, 69, who lives in Felden, served with the air force for 24 years from the age of 15 and is now retired.

He said the free travel is being provided by other train operators, including Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Trains and South West Trains.

He said: “I think this is a small gesture they could make to show their support for all those who have served with the forces over the years.

“The loss of revenue would be miniscule in comparison to their overall turnover. It ain’t going to break the bank for them – Heavens above.”

London Midland head of communications Francis Thomas said free travel was arranged for volunteer Poppy Day collectors in London recently. He said the Rail Delivery Group, which represents all train companies, has been working with the Royal British Legion to organise free travel.

He said: “We have supported fundraising days, but were not approached about Remembrance Sunday or that’s something we would have considered. I am glad Mr Knowles raised the issue.”

He said that before anything can be done, rail bosses would have to figure out how to identify genuine veterans visiting the Cenotaph, then brief thousands of staff.

But Mr Knowles said this would be easy, as passes are issued to those visiting the commemorations. He said: “I am prepared to pay my rail fare.

“But I would have thought there would be more consistency across the rail providers – particularly on the year of the centenary of the outbreak of the first World War.”