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.
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
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:
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
UPDATE: This from Andrew...
"Agnes Fairchild" obviously lived in a parallel
world to the one containing the British Rail that I worked in!
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
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
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
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
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.