Okay before I start let me just warn you this blog is going to be more like a rant than a blog!
Just a warning as even though I have calmed down somewhat I am still livid from the events of today.
So for anyone who doesn’t know the UK were the innovators of the railway, fact!
We had thousands of stations, and to begin with at least the most advanced.railways in the world.
Fast forward to the 1960’s and some bright spark who we shall call Beeching decided it was a really good idea to close thousands of stations in anticipation of more road use (because in this day and age the roads are never gridlocked at rush hour)!
Fast forward again to 2017 and rail use is going up again so the since the 1980’s (perhaps earlier) either old stations are being reopened or new stations are opened.
So you may think that the network is getting better, well you would wrong!!
The station I get the train from each morning opened for the first time in April. This was a station reopening of sorts about 100 yards down the track from the original.
To date we have one train per hour to Leeds and non going in the other direction to Manchester. The odd service to Huddersfield, and an occasional stop to London Kings Cross.
Now I have not researched the figures on this but visually the train is supposed to arrive at 7:27 each morning.Since I have been getting this train I estimate it is on time less than 50% of the time. Now nobody cares if the train is a few minutes late as it is no different to waiting for a bus, but the frequemcy and gradual decline of this service has become quite stark.. From a few minutes late we are increasingly getting over 5 minutes late per day, and I feel the frequency is increasing.
Now as there is only one train per hour to Yorkshires largest city if you miss this one then there is not another one until 8:23, and it takes about 30 minutes to get to Leeds and perhaps a 10 minute walk to work by which time I am late to work.
The train is 2 carriages, which is actually just about adequate in.a morning provided other trains dont miss (which in Bradford Interchange they frequently do).
However when other trains are delayed or in the case of 7:44 cancelled we play what I like to call sardines in a can, where personal space is more than at a premium for those standing up. I would challenge an executive from Northern Rail who operate our little franchise to actually ride the rush hour services and play sarduine in a can. However rather cynically perhaps I don’t think they would like to crumple their expensive executive suites.
From coversations I have had with colleagues who commute from all over Yorkshire (and in one case as far as Northern Derbyshire) this is not unique to the line I travel, but appears to be a common problem all over.
Also coming to light is a particular bug ber that has led to this blog in the first place and that is the policy of putting on far too few carriages to meet demand, and this is an issue I will cover next.
So this covers the trip to work but what about the wonders of the commute home?
After a long day at work all you really want is a seat on a train and the guarantee you can get home in reasonable time.
Now to me this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable thing to ask for from our rail providers, but unfortunately this seems to be beyond Northern rail and possibly other rail operators as well judging by what I read in the news on a fairly regular basis.
Now the normal ride home tends to include a 4 carriage train, now this is enough for most people to get a seat but with some standing as well, and is very nearly at capacity.
So imagine what happens when the normal 4 carriage formation is replaced by a 2 carriage set up? Well this ends up being sardines that should have been placed in 2 cans placed in one and the lid forced shut, I mean people are literally popping out of the doors.
I have personally seen someone get their foot stuck as the door opened at a station, as well as people constantly being hit by the doors as they open inwards to let people off.
This came to a head personally tonight as I was unable to get on the train this evening, which was reduced to 2 carriages. This ended up with me being forced to get a bus from a more frequently used station home at my expense, and added about an hour to my normal journey time.
now this is an inconvenience to me but there is a wider issue at work here. I would like to know in what world it is acceptble to cram people into a hunk of metal like that so that people are at risk of being trapped in the doors.
How is it acceptable that trains should be so overcrowded that the health and safety executive should have a field day but for some reason don’t.
Now I have complained before about this issue of having less carriages than is safe to put on for this service, and got a reply about rolling stock and refurbishment of carriages.
Now I have a simpler request to make to Northern Rail and any other operators who may happen upon this little rant of mine.
That is why don’t you send people out during rush hour to make a visual assessment of the overcrowding experienced by most commuters on the trains during our two rush hours (loose term nowadays).
I even challenge the head of Northern Rail and other heads of rail franchises throughout the country to try those lines during peak time from different routes and actually experience what commuters have to endure on a daily basis.
Now I say this in all confidence tht it will not happen as the executives of these companies are so out of touch with reality they may as well become politicians!!
My other suggestion is one that they won’t like because it involves spending actual real money, and that is how about buying more rolling stock to cope with demand.
Now the response we get from all of this is probably going to be the same as the rail franchises point out just how much money they have actually spent and how they are upgrading carriages and so when some come out of service because they are being upgraded this has caused a lack of rolling stock. However here is the thing IT IS NOT ENOUGH!!!!!
To me this is a very simple thing. Why not actually go out there and witness first hand the overcrowding on trains, and how people are being dangerously loaded into trains that are too short.
Secondly realise the issue is a general lack of carriages in the network, thirdly BUY ENOUGH STOCK TO MEET DEMAND!!!!
Now I will be told it is not as simple as this however I believe actually it is just that simple!
Now in January the rail companies will be asking for yet more money from the average commuter to travel on their sardine cans, and can we expect a better service? I am not hopeful as very much like the politicians who are supposed to take care of the track (although the Tories would like this to be private as well.I am sure), how much money is made through profit is much more important than the foot soldiers who provide those funds.
Sadly a rant like mine will do little to change anything as those at the top of these companies care very little about the plight of the average person in the street,as they are so far removed from everyday society they see themselves as a cut above. While this attitude whether obvious or not continues then things will never change.
The problem is the divide between those at the top and bottom in society is so wide it reates a disconnect, and for those who feel Corbyn is different just remember he is in the end a politician, and little different in the end from anyone else who sits in the house.
While its nice to rant the fact is I dont believe this will hit home anywhere. Its nice if people agree but the impact I feel will be less than miniscule in the grand scheme of things.
What I would ask is for those of you who feel as agrieved as me at the current state of the railways, and the fact we are constantly asked to pay more for less then complain to the companies responsible and KEEP complaining.
The fact is railway operators have to release complaint statistics every year at somepoint, and the more we complain the more questions will have to be asked of the franchise operators.
Far too many of us dont raise our voices and be heard, and so as a consequence companies like Northern Rail get away without having to justify themselves.
I say this needs to stop, everyone who feels the same I urge to go onto their rail operators websites and raise your concerns. Keep complaining it is surprisingly simple, make our voices louder so people have to listen.
Well rant over as always my views are my own, thanks for reading.