Thursday, 7 April 2011

Baker to reintroduce Workman's ticket - Yawn!

Welcome to the wild and whacky world of Half-baked Baker.

According to the Grauniad...

The transport minister, Norman Baker, wants to dramatically reduce rush hour in the capital and across the country by convincing companies to let people work from home, come in late, or set up satellite offices that will create commuting routes which go against existing traffic.

Ministers are investigating tactics to "nudge" people into abandoning the rush hour, such as convincing train, tube and bus companies to offer bigger discounts for travelling outside the busiest hours.

Where to begin?

Well let's start with Whitehall.

Listen here Normy - rather than telling employers what to do, why don't you lead by example and stagger Whitehall and Westminster office hours?

Too difficult, eh?

So instead why not come up with some vapid posturing that sounds like it might address overcrowding but in reality is merely headline grabbing.

If Baker really believes that the re-introduction of Workmen's tickets is actually going to address the capacity issues on both LUL and the National Rail network (which both recorded over a billion passengers journeys last year) then he really is a couple of slices short of a loaf.

This stale proposition has been reheated by successive Governments since the 1980s, and usually as a prelude to ducking investment in network capacity.

And still the numbers of passengers and the journeys they make grow year on year.

Passengers and the industry are getting sick to the back teeth of headline grabbing crumbs thrown out by ministers.

Time to stop this fruitcake nonsense and invest in new trains and longer platforms!

UPDATE: This from Manchester Man...

The idea of people travelling outside peak times is great.

Unfortunately at least two operators that service London (Virgin and FCC) have increased the length of time that constitutes the morning and evening peak.

Maybe Baker should address that issue first.

UPDATE: This from a Mr Thomas Allen...

What nonsense.

Whitehall staggered its working hours years ago.

I worked (in 'Whitehall') ten years ago with people who came in at 0730 and went home at 1600.

I usually worked 0930 to 1800. We were allowed to work any old hours as long as they added up to 41 a week and we manned the desks from 0800 to 1800.

Has anyone ever tried to get on a train from Tonbridge at 0615? Packed.

My mega-bank moneyed friends in the City (off from Tonbridge at 0615 etc) were at their desks by 0730. Would they count as 'workmen'?

Another friend who was a genuine 'workman' was always on the 0530 so he could be on site by 0700. He couldn't get a seat coming home at 1630.

I remember big plans in the mid 80's to devolve Whitehall HQ offices to all kinds of places, plans for people to work from home, telecommuting and all those things designed to reduce the burden on London rush hour.

Now, what do we have? Record numbers using trains at 'rush hour' which extends from 0600 to 1000 at many stations.

(It was pointed out that if a large London HQ office was despatched to, say, Dorking, that would mean 1,000 more people driving to work. Not very green.)

People do not commute by rail to London because they want to, they do so because they have to.

The sooner the big bucks companies get away from the idea they must have a big shiny tower in London to demonstrate how marvellous they are, the quicker the burden on rail will be reduced.

Big low rise offices in business parks in places like Ashford or Bracknell or Chatham or Milton Keynes, with massive car parks next door and the sooner we can get rid of commuter rail service and leave everyone to to their own devices.

UPDATE: This from Banker76...

Baker's merely building on an increasing reputation for meaningless announcements.

Just a couple of weeks ago he was in Sheffield announcing a 'go-ahead for the tram-train pilot' when in fact he was simply announcing yet another stage in the consultation/funding process.

All the local hacks fell for it, generating welcome headlines about how the project is going ahead.

But his own press release was peppered with words like 'could' and 'might'.

South Yorkshire might indeed get the tram-train pilot. But it ain't in the bag yet.