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U.K. - "Holidaymakers Face Summer of Chaos on Britain's Failing Railways"

U.K. - "Holidaymakers Face Summer of Chaos on Britain's Failing Railways"

Old Aug 6th, 2008, 08:50 AM
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U.K. - "Holidaymakers Face Summer of Chaos on Britain's Failing Railways"

The above Guardian article headline seems to be an annual rite of summer in Britain, where on the country's many 'failing' railways 'essential engineering and signalling works' cause so many disruptions and bus substitutions when lines are totally closed.

And it ubiquitously happens over one of the busiest travel times of the year - the August Bank Holiday.

And though in four decades of riding the British rails i'd call chaos a daily occurrence the chaos intensifies in August - if taking a rail trip check www.nationalrail.co.uk which i presume notes the many disruptions of August.

For the whole story of the sad third-world state of Britain's railways: www.guardian.co.uk
/2008/transport.railtravel
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 09:45 AM
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How much does the US spend on public transport?

And looking at the list of engineering works for that weekend, most of them seem to be on commuter lines with the main exception of the works around Rugby

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/servic...ringworks.html

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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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"And though in four decades of riding the British rails i'd call chaos a daily occurrence"

I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you; but the reason railway works are carried out particularly at Bank holidays, is that there are fewer travellers by rail then (due to commuters not going in). It's the roads that are busy then.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 09:59 AM
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You're absolutely right

Headlines about failing railways are indeed an annual rite. Especially headlines that describe extensive upgrading as "failing"

The railways themselves, though, keep on seeing faster growth in their passengers numbers than railways in any other comparable country. And no-one's yetr succeeded on this forum in showing a country whose population takes trains as often.

The Guardian's readership, meanwhile, is falling faster (10% a year) than any other national newspaper.

So who's really failing? The Guardian, or people gullible enough to believe the preposterous slant it puts on stories?

It used to be a real newspaper - back in the days its editor decreed "Comment in free: facts are sacred". Since it's turned into a daily, fact-free, reprint of the Toynbees' bigotries, its readers are deserting it in droves for papers that tell them what's happening.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 10:06 AM
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its readers are deserting it in droves

Now, who is being preposterous?
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 11:07 AM
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The article was in The Grauniad's right wing little brother - The Observer

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/ju...ort.railtravel
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 11:10 AM
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Not only are British trains the most overcrowded, littered and least comfy trains compared to the Continental standard IME they are also the most expensive

some of the worst service at the most expensive prices - usually you get what you pay for but especially since privitization in England you on the rails get less for more
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 11:23 AM
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The "worst service" ?
Just look at railway timetables in Britain compared with other countries'. With trains on most main lines every hour or every half hour, Britain's trains offer a far better service than in many other European countries.
As for fares, most newspaper articles quote full-fare one-way fares which very few people pay. In France or Italy, a return ticket usually costs twice as much as a single ticket. The fares that most British passengers actually pay are cheaper than in other countries.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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In terms of service i'm talking about once you're on the train - if you can even get on some rush hour trains

the frequency of service is excellent, at least on mainlines

"Rail travel in Britain is also more expensive than ANYWHERE else in Europe, according to a study by the travel agent Thomas Cook. In Feb it published figures showing that in Britain 10 pounds will buy just 27 miles of travel by train, compared to 38 miles in Ireland and 50 in France. Recently the news that fares will soar yet again by as much as 10% because of inflation generated another round of negative headlines"

Geoff - i would assume the cost per mile is figured on taking the total cost of travel paid by everyone and then dividing into total miles collectively traveled. But this quote from the Guardian story above does not actually say how Thomas Cook came to its figures.

But the Guardian writer said British rail travel was the most expensive in Europe.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 11:44 AM
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Stories that British train fares are high are almost always based on a comparison of standard one-way fares which few people actually buy.
Exactly 27 miles from London Waterloo is Sunningdale. A standard single is £8.90, a standard return is £11.10, and a cheap day return is £10.30 (therefore 54 miles for £10.30).
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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<figures from the Dept of Transport show that passengers are being packed into carriages offering LESS space than the legal minimum for transporting farm animals. Some of the most crowded are carrying 50% more than they were designed for, with the overspill having to stand in vestibules and even lavatories.>

I guess that means "cattle cars" are better than some passenger trains?

recently going from Lincoln to Cambridge by the time i got to the train i could barely wedge myself in the door - past the bloke with a bicycle - there were as many standing as sitting and more kept swarming on the train - including, incredibly, another cylist and cycle.

This was a two-car train but another two cars had been taken off it and were sitting right behind the two sardine cars.

'Staff shortage,' a ubiquitous explanation for canceled trains, etc. was explained as to why the two cars had been uncoupled and everyone who normally would have been in 4 cars was now jammed into 2.

Seems pure incompetence that somehow these two cars were uncoupled and left standing in the station as the two cars pulled out - it did not need a driver, etc.

these type things rarely happen to me in other countries but are endemic in Britain - incongruous things seen nowhere else.

Last Feb i spent a week riding English trains:

Trains were delayed many times for:

4- staff shortage - no driver

4- equipment failure on train or overhead wires (to Manchester, causing a diversion via Crewe)

3- assaults on staff at trains up the line

1- 'man on track' up the line

1- 'police chase on track ahead"

umpteen times - cause not explained

and if it had been autumn then 'leaves on tracks' would have been a common delay

It's really Europe's poorest rail system in spite of number of travelers and Geoff, as a frequent rail traveler on the Continent i think would agree.

That said i love taking English trains - in spite of the frustrations there are so many trains you will get where you are going.

I will say that the train onboard staff seems very poor - must be a low pay to attract what i would call lazy idiots in cases and general apathy

On the train back from Manchester in Feb the guy on the PA was not even intelligible to the group of English business folk sitting opposite of me

and every time he garbled some words they laughed - he was apologizing once actually for having to use plastic silverware (in first class where you typically get complimentary food en route - this was a Virgin train which means a free feast - the complimentary food only served in first class is the BEST by far in Europe) instead of real silverware

And the business types, who had been maligning this train line the whole way - one said "he should apologize for the train sucking"

And many Brits, yes as reflected even on Coronation Street, just think the railways are dismal and to be used as a last course - and the lines are overcrowded often because the train is the only practical option for them to get to city centers.

As the Guardian article says "In the media, the railways are synonymous with shambles, if any politician's public image was so negative they would have been voted out of office long ago."

As things will only get worse - much much worse it seems before better

Guardian says "If just 5% of people traveling by car turn to rail it would require a 50% increase in rail capacity, piling unbearable pressure on a system which has no room for manoeuvre"

To me it does seem like a system Duct Taped together and getting worse before better

Other European countries seem to have nationalized rail systems with huge subsidies as a public utility and Britain should IMO follow suit

Talk for years of a true high-speed railway London to Scotland snaking thru densely populated areas is still a pipe dream - whilst France, Germany and EVEN Spain open long stretches of new high-speed dedicated lines.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 12:06 PM
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Geoff i suspect you may be right and the Guardian was remiss if that were the case - walk up fares yes can be stunningly high

When i went to Manchester in Feb they made the usual announcement warning folks with train-specific discounted unchangeable tickets, etc. to be sure they were on the right train or they would have to pay the normal one-way fare of 133 pounds in standard class or about $270 - and there were business types in first class who paid the conductor on board with credit card about double that - i know that many folks obviously do get the advance and limited discount tickets at a fraction of the price
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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The standard one-way fare from London to Manchester is £115 not £133. A saver single, valid on most trains, is £61.40 and a saver return, valid on most trains, is £62.40; these are walk-up fares, do not need to be bought in advance and have unlimited availability.
If you board a train without a valid ticket, the rule is that you have to pay the full single fare (£115 in the case of London-Manchester) but if you buy a ticket before boarding the train, there are much cheaper fares available.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 01:34 PM
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<<< Most expensive in Europe >>>

London to Edinburgh (400 miles) - £14 - and a sleeper train starts at £19
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 02:23 PM
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It seems to be OK to criticize the US for all sorts of things, but obviously the British are a little bit touchy when they are criticized.
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Old Aug 6th, 2008, 03:06 PM
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Actually no one criticises the British rail system more than those of us who use it regularly.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 01:42 AM
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I know that some of you cherish PalenQ as a kind of pet, but it's possible to suss out one of his headings at a glance and it begins to get boring.
He trolls through online British newspapers and finds one that depicts Britain in a negative light.
Then everyone piles in. Why not emulate the late great George Brown and "treat him with the ignore-ance he deserves"?

A question on the lines of "How can I check if my train will be running or delayed?", is fine, but that heading is not even a question.
I'm feeling grumpy this morning ;-(

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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 02:40 AM
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I'm feeling grumpy this morning ;-(>>>>

Do what PalQ does. Drink Ronseal.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 03:08 AM
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Nothing new - and it's not just summer.
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Old Aug 7th, 2008, 03:20 AM
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<<< and it's not just summer. >>>

I'm investing in wet suit futures - I see a market for them in Scotland.

Wonder how much the Tattoo folk enjoyed themselves over the past couple of nights
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