How much do train screw ups damage the UK economy?

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First up, let me say that Chris and I won’t be at Spring Fair today as planned and noted here on Tamebay. And the reason is very simple: we can’t rely on the train services.

I was going to head up there from Brighton by train (because I am also going to Stratford-on-Avon for a spot of Shakespeare). I don’t drive but do rely on the trains to get about and sometimes have been heard to say that I enjoy the experience.

That said, since the start of the year, between Brighton and London, problems with rail replacement bus services and screw ups related to the refurb of London Bridge station have made that line a nightmare. The relevant operators are Southern Railways and First Capital Connect.

Chris was going to drive to the NEC and collect me on the way but a landslide means that the train I was getting to Solihull is now a bus service between Banbury and Leamington Spa. The likely delays make such a trip too much of a pain in the backside.

And Chris travelled into London yesterday with First Great Western and had such a mare with a the rail replacement services last evening and cancelled and overcrowded trains on Tuesday morning that we’re calling the trip off.

We just have better things to do, writing Tamebay for one. We don’t need the hassle and annoyance of paying premium fares for shoddy services. It’s just a bad use of our time, money and forbearance.

We’re just sorry we won’t be able to meet chums and others who will be at Spring Fair.

And it does make us wonder whether the ongoing poor performance of the railways, which does seem to be worse this year than before, is also damaging the British economy.

For starters, we aren’t going to the NEC to do business at Spring Fair and it seems fair to surmise that that’s just one tiny example. There are doubtless many others.

8 Responses

  1. Needless to say, but once again the trains to London (if I was going today) are running with a four hour delay this morning. Not only that but there will be no trains for me in and out of Reading for two weeks after Easter!

  2. Over the last few years the Railway Network has dramatically increased its passenger numbers. This has caused the need for a great deal of maintenance and upgrading. However while in a year or two such as Network Rail and the Government assure us that train travel will be greatly improved it does not help the travelling public now trying to fight its way through the chaos.

    However may I remind everybody that there is still a national network of long distance luxury coaches. In addition several operators run regular express coaches to such as London. These are not Railway Replacement Services but normal scheduled services. In addition the fares are usually significantly less than the corresponding Train Fare although the journey times can be longer.

    So if your local Railwayline is beset with delays phone your local Bus Company or Bus Station Information Office or even such as National Express and make a few enquiries. I cannot guarantee that they will be able to answer all of your travel problems but it is likely that they will be able to answer some or even most.

  3. Railways are no different to other businesses. You get what you pay for.

    Railways in Britain suffered from total under investment in the 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s and 90’s.

    Investment is now being made to correct some of the 50 years of neglect. Disruption is inevitable.

    In the specific case of a trip to Birmingham today, when I just looked the other 2 services, Virgin (quick but more expensive) and London Midland (slower and less expensive) were both working well.

    You can still easily get to Birmingham from London by train today.

    The issue on the Marylebone-Birmingham service is an unstable deep cutting that has ‘stood’ since the days of Brunel. It became an issue at the end of last week and is likely to take 6+ weeks to fix.

  4. Dan, I think that you are missing something.

    The NEC is right next to Birmingham International rail station. You can get to any of the halls ‘quickly and conveniently’, without having to step outside!

    Birmingham International station has direct services from London Euston with either of my above mentioned TOCs.

  5. Transport problems of all types damage the UK’s economy. Underinvestment in transport infrastructure is the main culprit, as has already been described above. There’s also another pet peeve of mine, which is the number of person-hours (which of course we used to call ‘man-hours’) lost in traffic jams due to accidents.

    They spend so long keeping roads closed, spending time and care measuring skidmarks on the road, so that the insurance companies know whom to blame and whose insurer has to pay up the measly £10,000 or whatever. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of people are delayed, at whatever rate they are paid; the cost is going to run into millions. Packages and other road-transported goods are held up. And all so that the insurers know which of them has to pay up.

    Here’s what they should do. Rescue the casualties/remove the bodies, drag the wreckage clear of the carriageway, perhaps sweep up a little, then reopen the road. Get the traffic moving. Estimate the skidmarks from the roadside or measure them early in the morning when everyone is in bed. Millions of pounds saved. Sorted.


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