Friday, 16 December 2016

Railway angst!

Travelling on the railway was an important part of living near London. When my husband was promoted from a branch of the bank in Chester to a job in the NatWest tower the only way of getting to work was by train.
During the first weeks there was a strike in progress. The only way was to catch a coach .
This left very early in the morning....he left the house around six am and returned about eight pm. It was an exhausting routine. Occasionally they would sleep on their desks .
When trains went back to normal it was an occasion for massive rejoicing .
Over the twenty odd years that we lived in Essex the trains played a huge part in our lives so I have great sympathy for those people trying to get to work on the southern rail network.
During the period when I travelled in and out of London regularly the train was the only option. It was an eye opener to be arriving into Liverpool St when the city was emptying . I was in real danger of being mown down by thousands of commuters intent on getting home.
"You have to be born to it." My husbands verdict on the problem...we hadn't been.
What is happening now is something he had foreseen during the period of privatisation in the nineties.
"It will never work" he came from a railway family, having had a father who had been a station master in various prestigious stations.
The present situation would have horrified him.
It's hard to imagine the present government contemplating any sort of nationalisation but they do have to do something...employing guards on trains secures the safety of seems a small concession under the circumstances.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Absolutely correct Jean, I couldn't have put it better.

    Whilst we have fragmented national infrastructure with any profits not being ploughed back in we will be in trouble.

    Up the provrbial creek without the paddle, or the canoe.

    This applies not just to the railways but to the utilities and other key industries and services like the NHS.

    Enjoy your upcoming Cruise :-) :-)

  2. The issue is that other commuter lines operate driver only trains, and have done so for 10 years or more, as does London Underground.

    The issue is not so much security or safety, but trade unions wanting to preserve jobs, terms and conditions, which have been removed or watered down or even closed down (in terms of pensions) for many others, not in industries where strong unions can do good work, but can also damage the industry.

    I too, commuted in and out of London from North Kent for 10 years or so, and was affected by strikes quite often, but worse was the over crowded trains and often delays and cancellations. I eventually got a Job in Ilford, which would have required a double rail journey to get there from the here, despite it only being 9 miles as the crow flies north of the Thames. I drove, using the Woolwich Ferry or Blackwall Tunnel, daily for 4 years, until I got promoted and sent to Canterbury. That was a straight forward 45 minute each way drive daily, with expenses paid, as they had moved my work place, but not provided removal facilities. It was cheaper for them to do that, than pay for changing housing costs.

    The Southern passengers have been let down by the Company, it's owners and the Government and, even more by the Unions, who only care about their political motives and protecting their workers, without a care for the damage that they are doing daily to the economy. I wouldn't blame the government if it brought in laws to prevent essential public services such as transport from going on strike.

  3. I'm with you Jean (as usual). My 28 years of commuting in and out of London gave me plenty of opportunity to see the very best and worst the railways could offer.
    While I appreciate the need for cuts in expenditure in order to provide a more streamlined service I too feel that a guard on the train is essential.
    There are a million small emergencies every day on commuter trains, who is to deal with them, the driver?
    Sometimes 'forward planning' needs to be tempered with common sense.