Latest leaks from Whitehall indicate that the government is planning to extend the help-to-buy scheme - which has allowed thousands of people to join the housing market with only a 5% deposit - in order to cover rail fares as well.
Currently, public transport is seen as a luxury - many working people on middle incomes are forced to rely on their car as their primary means of transport, while desperately saving up for the deposit on an all-zones railcard. Consistently above-inflation hikes in rail fares mean that for many, the dream of owning their own season ticket seems further away than ever.
Lorraine Underwood, a chef at the Ivy, travels in to central London from her home in Clapham but is finding that her take-home pay doesn't cover the cost of the train to work. Most days she travels by taxi instead. But Norman Stephenson, director of Southern Rail, doesn't believe that there is a problem. 'I don't see why it's such a big deal. Obviously first class travel is included as part of my remuneration package, but others that I've spoken to down at the golf club or parents at my son's private school say that they can manage to pay for their standard-class season ticket, so it seems to me that our fares are about right.'
The scheme would allow the 'squeezed middle' onto the public transport ladder, but some detractors believe that it could lead to a further boom in rail prices, as already scarce availability of places on commuter trains is taken up in the rush to take advantage of the scheme.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has denounced the proposal as unworkable, and instead promised that a Labour government would introduce compulsory 'affordable seats' on all new train carriages.