Why can't you get a seat to Paddington when changing trains at Reading? Sorry, that's a commercial secret
Marlborough area rail travellers from Bedwyn and Hungerford are more and more likely to have to change trains at Reading - or Newbury. And at peak times it is often difficult, if not impossible to find a seat and you end up standing all the way to Paddington.
In the House of Commons, the Conservative MP for Wokingham, the forensically savvy John Redwood, asked the Transport Secretary "what information his Department holds on (a) the peak seat capacity (b) demand for rail services between Reading and London Paddington during each morning hour."
It fell to Rail Minister Claire Perry MP to give a written reply: "With regard to the peak seat capacity for rail services between Reading to London Paddington, this is commercially confidential information." So that's that - it's a secret.
But she then went on to answer his (b) question: "We do not hold information on the demand for rail services specifically between Reading to London Paddington."
"This is because as most services into Paddington call at Reading, it is difficult to separate passenger numbers between those who are on services prior to arriving at Reading travelling to Paddington; those who are travelling to intermediate stations from Reading; those who change at Reading from other start points; and those travelling between Reading and Paddington."
So it is probably better to let the Department of Transport stick with counting leaves on the line and late arrivals and rail companies' profits.
But Mrs Perry had not finished with Mr Redwood: "For Paddington station in 2015, the proportion of standard class passengers that are above the capacity on their service at its busiest point is a total of 10.4%."
In everyday language this means, I think, that 10.4 per cent of passengers on those peak time trains coming into Paddington are standing. Unless there is some magic get out in the - normally redundant - use of the phrase 'a total of'.
And that 10.4 per cent is just the standard passengers. No mention of all those first class passengers who are left standing. Aren't they?