Wednesday, January 02, 2008

two days in and I'm already talking about trains

...with good reason this time, as they have been hitting the headlines. Nonetheless, I appreciate that you might wish to skip my rantings and ramblings, which is fine by me. You don't have to read the rest of this post, and can just sit back and wait for another post, which will hopefully be more to your taste.

Network Rail have screwed up. Big time. As has been pointed out in the media coverage, there is no excuse for such poor planning when the works have been in the pipeline for so long. On the radio earlier, the Network Rail spokesman blamed "staff shortages", saying that lots of workers had taken annual leave. He noted that per track section they needed 40 people on shift for a particular job and had only been getting 20-25. So, by the sounds of things, despite having planned such a big project, the powers that be had allowed everyone to take holiday and then paid 25 people to stand around unable to do anything without their colleagues. *JP puts his thumbs up in a sarcastic manner*.

I am, however, it has to be said, impressed with Virgin Trains for the way in which they seem to have dealt with it. Chris Gibb's message on the lunchtime news was very passenger focussed and he was clearly doing all he could. Aside from the fact that some passengers have had problems with Value Tickets (which is a shame), Virgin Trains have evidently done their very best to get passengers to their destinations. I've even heard that they've lent trains to other companies to ease the crowding on the alternative routes.

Congratulations to Virgin Trains as well for publicly holding Network Rail responsible rather than taking the flack themselves. (I digress, but First Great Western could learn from this having apparently been screwed over time and again by the Department for Transport). The Labour MP for transport (whose name I'm not going to waste my time looking up) twittered on earlier on the radio about 'private companies', whilst the Conservative Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers hit the nail on the head when she pointed out that actually Network Rail is a governmental concern. Ladies and Gentlemen, you can have whatever view you like on privatisation but the truth of the matter is that the government is to blame for this week's chaos.

I wonder if that's why that jester Bob Crow hasn't thrown a misguided tantrum this time? He has, after all, been conspicuous by his absence...

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