News Daily: Rail fares reform promised and ‘crazy’ customs plan

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Fares fair

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Rail fares in the UK look set for a shake-up. The number and complexity of tickets on offer has grown to baffling proportions – about 55 million in all – and now rail firms say action is needed to make the system simpler and fairer.

They blame “well-meaning but outdated regulation” for the current state of affairs, where it can be cheaper to buy several tickets for a single journey rather than one. Or why you might can be charged a peak-time fare when half a trip is on an off-peak service. It’s also why, they say, part-time and freelance workers are left tearing their hair out at the inflexibility of the season ticket system.

News Daily: Rail fares reform promised and ‘crazy’ customs plan
News Daily: Rail fares reform promised and ‘crazy’ customs plan

The firms are launching a UK-wide public consultation in conjunction with watchdog Transport Focus, who say reform is long overdue. But the RMT union is sounding a note of scepticism, arguing that “no-one trusts” private rail companies to “do the right thing by passengers” – even after asking them their views.

No 10’s customs plan ‘crazy’

The row over the future of the UK-EU customs union post-Brexit shows no sign of being resolved, and now foreign secretary and Brexiteer-in-chief Boris Johnson has apparently called his boss’s preferred option “crazy” and “untried”.

That option – known as a customs partnership – would require the UK to collect tariffs on goods set by the EU on behalf of Brussels, but Mr Johnson has told a newspaper he believes it’s a non-starter. Most crucially for Theresa May, he insists it wouldn’t amount to “taking back control” – control of borders, laws and trade policy – and this is the bottom line for Brexiteers.

Downing Street said the idea was still on the table after ministers failed to agree a customs plan last week, but BBC political correspondent Alex Forsyth says Mr Johnson’s intervention will inevitably stoke tensions within the Conservative Party.

Here’s a reminder of why the customs union matters so much.

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New York attorney general quits

Eric Schneiderman has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, but now he’s been forced to resign following allegations of assault by four women. Mr Schneiderman said he “strongly contests” accusations he hit and abused women, but was stepping down because the claims would “effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time”.

Trump Iran announcement looms

Finally, we’re expecting a statement from the White House later today about whether the US will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Donald Trump has repeatedly branded it a bad deal – here are the key details of what it entails – but a string of other Western leaders, most recently the aforementioned Boris Johnson, have urged him to stick with it.

Cannes Film Festival: 10 movies to watch

By Neil Smith, BBC Entertainment reporter, in Cannes

This year’s festival will end with the world premiere of Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote film – or at least that’s the plan. One of the film’s former producers is trying to halt the screening, claiming it can’t go ahead without his permission. A previous attempt to make the film collapsed in 2000 – a calamity charted in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha. But Gilliam pressed on and finally managed to complete the film, in which Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver play contemporary versions of Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Read the full article

What the papers say

The plight of rail travellers – and the possibility of change – makes several front pages. The Times asks why it’s taken so long to sort out the chaos and calls current price discrepancies “scandalous”. Paul Plummer, the head of industry body the Rail Delivery Group admits in a piece for the Daily Telegraph that customers deserve better. “NHS cuts will kill kids” declares the headline on the front page of the Daily Mirror. It’s worried about the possible closure of paediatric services at a Lincolnshire hospital. Meanwhile, the Financial Times says hundreds of staff in the Department for International Trade are set to lose their jobs.

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14:30 Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt takes questions in the Commons following breast cancer screening errors.

15:30 Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes and the head of immigration enforcement at the Home Office appear before MPs – a grilling on the Windrush scandal is inevitable.

On this day

1945 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill officially announces the end of the war with Germany.

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