Transport secretary Grant Shapps has been mocked after suggesting the removal of graffiti from trains will see more people take the train.
BBC News reports the minister told rail bosses to do more to crack down on such acts to encourage more to start using trains again.
He claimed that maintaining stations to a high standard would help boost passenger confidence, and that Network Rail must use all tools and innovations” available to keep them clean.
Writing to Andrew Haines, the chief executive of Network Rail, he said: “The blight of graffiti, however, can have an impact on the confidence of passengers as they return to safely using the railway, and on the wider public view of our national infrastructure and public transport.”
He added bosses needed to ensure the railways remained “worthy of pride” and operators used the latest technology to combat vandalism and anti-social acts.
Shapps was accused of being out-of-touch in Twitter remarks about the story.
“Then there’s punctuality, cancellations, crowded carriages – but Mr Alias reckons graffiti is the big issue,” wrote one.
“What planet is he on?” asked another. “Making them cheaper, more efficient, not packed, Covid free and convenient will make more people use them!”
“Yep it’s definitely that and not the fact you basically need to sell a kidney to afford a train ticket,” noted Evie Aspinall.
“It’s cheaper to fly from Manchester to London but, but… paint,” said June Sim.
“Imagine thinking graffiti is the reason people aren’t taking trains – and not the extortionate prices they force on people,” noted Ollie Cook.
Steve Osborne tweeted: “‘I’m not getting the train because there’s too much graffiti’ said no one ever.”
Steve Jones commented: “This would be believable if being on a train didn’t involve your face being in some other person’s armpit for the entire journey.”
Will Hoddinott added: “Yep I was about to book my £80 ticket to Leeds but then I saw some graffiti on the train and decided not to. How out of touch is Grant Shapps”.
Tony Turner offered some sarcastic agreement. “Too true. I don’t mind paying a thousand pounds for a train to London but that dreadful graffiti really puts me off.”
Earlier this month Shapps faced questions about his private jet being registered in the US, rather than UK, with accusations he was undermining the civil aviation authority here.