Responses raise more questions than answers

01 February 2015

The railway system has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons at the start of this year. The annual increase in fares, on the main line, and the tube in London, has met with disapproval not only from the travelling public but from employers and certain politicians recognising it is not sustainable, and also questioning the quality of service.

As stakeholders, we recognise the need to maintain and, hopefully,improve the infrastructure but the nonsense at Finsbury Park and Paddington does nothing for all of us who are identified with the railway. The responses to both situations were baffling and concerning. Mark Carne told the Transport Select Committee the issues at Finsbury were due to installing untested hardware – which raises more questions than it answers. Paddington, apparently,was down to eight hours of checks being required on the work done. Do you not check work as it’s completed, or build in the time needed as part of the project? And we have seen, once more, the privatised train companies seeking to blame drivers for their failure to have enough resources to cover their services.

One thing the rail industry continually fails to recognise is that it is the staff who take the abuse – the gripes and the groans – over fare rises. Operating staff are equally inconvenienced by failures such as Finsbury Park and Paddington as they might like to get home in the hours they expected, too.

Companies bemoaning their lack of drivers might want to address their own failings. Because how much worse would it be without the goodwill of those drivers who cover a company’s shortfall? Would the TOCs like to publish the additional hours and days worked by drivers that hide the true situation and shortages? Maybe, instead, they could let the travelling public, and the world, know that they are grateful for all you do in sometimes difficult circumstances. That’s why I want to thank you for everything you do to maintain the safe operation and services of our railway system.

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