Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Here, here!

Oh, boy, it's not often I read a piece in the Times and agree with virtually all of it, but in this case, my own experience of the British rail network over the last 20 years of regular, cross-country and metropolitan travel is completely born out.

The British government needs, as a matter of urgency, to re-nationalize the railways, in order to drop prices by 10%, and plough all the profits, currently passed to the share holders, into the infrastructure. The rolling stock is generally okay, but the track, stations and signaling hardware is in dire need of a major re-fit. The staff needs increasing to levels where you can find people who actually work on the station on the station, and not staffing (through some contracting-out) the appalling platform 'cafe'.

Finally, scrap all these stupid fare structures ... getting from A to B should have two prices (standard and first class), regardless of when you travel, how much notice you have of when you'll need to travel(*), what route you choose to take(**), whether you make stop-offs along the way, or what colour the fabric of the seats in the carriages.

(*) "what do you mean, my mother is critically ill in hospital, I urgently need to get to Oxford NOW, but I have to pay £250 because the only train available is a commuter route and I didn't give you six weeks notice of my intention to travel!"

(**) common sense (that so-rare of commodities amongst public servants!) to be applied so that people don't get a ticket from Didcot to Bracknell, and then go via Inverness!

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