Monday, 2 July 2012

The brothers back a return to BR

This from Agnes Fairchild...

I read with interest this weekend's report, sponsored by RMT, ASLEF, Unite and TSSA, which urges The Labour Party to consider proposals for renationalising the railways.

And who can blame them for wanting a return to the halcyon days of 1978/79, when a Labour Government last presided over a state owned railway!

I myself am particularly excited at the prospect of reinstating SeaLink Ferries, SeaSpeed Hovercraft services and British Transport Hotels.  

Frustrated engineers in Derby are no doubt already sharpening their pencils in anticipation of the resumption of a gas turbine APT programme, (what price IEP now?).  

And the re-nationalisation of Travellers Fare will of course delight all those that mourn the passing of the British Rail sandwich.

Of course 1978/79 was also famous as the Winter of Discontent, where, after tens of millions of working days were lost through union strike action, the Government capitulated with double digit pay settlements.  

Beer, sandwiches and trebles all round!

UPDATE: This from John...

Please can I add a heartfelt wish to this:

Please can we have Red Star Parcels back at the same time?

Same day deliveries around the country were a real boon to British manufacturing industry, as all the items that were running late could be delivered at the last possible minute!

UPDATE: This from Andrew...

"Agnes Fairchild" obviously lived in a parallel world to the one containing the British Rail that I worked in! 
In mine:
  • there was a relatively simple fare structure that applied across the whole country,
  • returns from investment in one route provided the money to upgrade another, and it was the most cost-effective network in Europe
  • operators and engineers cooperated in the design of locos and rolling stock and used their experience (something that the current Mandarins/accountants/Directors and Franchise owners wouldn't recognise if it bit them on the bum) to produce kit that lasted many decades - & much of it is still working or would be if it hadn't been thrown away,
  • the timetables were designed to fit together and to make the best use of resources (& were improving) - rather than just trying to maximise flows to and from London- [how can anyone justify making all passengers wanting to go from a triangle covering the area from Northampton and Newport to Crewe having to use just the Birmingham to Scotland "service" of single Voyagers to get to Glasgow and Edinburgh alternately?  Just look at the table 51/65 services from the 1970's and see the hourly options to get to everywhere - on proper trains of adequate capacity that - like many others - were strengthened or duplicated at busy times]
  • most rolling stock was reasonably well suited to its use...
  • staff knew about the network outside their own patch, there was a Control who thought about passengers' overall journeys and people were mostly all in it together
I could go on (and on and on...!).
I also have happy memories of boat trains (and multiple reliefs) feeding people and luggage onto ferries within a few yards of the Channel port station platforms, leading on to an equally-simple transfer onto overnight trains to all sort of places across Europe.
Passenger Control also ensured that on one occasion when because of some delay our young family arrived at Shrewsbury from Bristol via New St and Wolverhampton (where we briefly alerted platform staff to the problem) an hour after the last Wrexham service had left.  We were told to stay on board and the unit ran non-stop to Wrexham to deliver us! 
It might not have been "cost effective" in the short term, but it built faith in the reliability of "the railway" and ensured further use.  
UPDATE: This from Logistical...

How lovely to see the old "British Rail sandwich" canard being rolled out again. It brought a nostalgic tear to my eye.

UPDATE: This from Chionanthus Virginicus

I can confirm that the BR sandwich is alive and well in.... Switzerland !!

The trolley (?) on the splendid Golden Pass service (Montreux - Zweisimmen) served two slices of dry bread interlaced with a piece of rather rubbery gruyere - no lettuce, mayo, of fillings etc and only a glister of butter.  

Each to his own taste ...but the train was, of course, On Time.