Friday, 10 October 2008


A message from Captain Deltic!

The good Captain has asked the The Fact Compiler to point out that Lord Adonis fails to mention Sir Robert Reid in his Wolmar book review (Railway Eye passim).

"As experts now acknowledge Sir Bob's Chairmanship ushered in the golden age of British Rail (business railway, sectorisation, declining subsidies, etc...)."

Perhaps the Noble Lord's latent Tory prejudices have led him to suppress memories of a once cost effective railway?


Train looking like a pigsty?

Less people wandering round with bin bags picking up rubbish?

A visible reduction in the number of contractors working at the coalface?

Welcome to Recession Rail - getting shot of the easy stuff first!


Telegrammed by our man at 222 Marylebone Road
Last of the Privatisation Jihadis?

Lord Adonis, the grandly titled 'Minster for National Networks', was considered sufficiently qualified by the editor of chattering-classes glossy mag 'Prospect', to review Christian Wolmar's historical opus 'Fire & Steam'.

He produced a glowing review, except on those sections of Wolmar's tome covering recent history.

According to the appointed peer:

"Wolmar's one over-romantic flourish is his panegyric on the last years of British Rail.

"He paints the BR of Richard Marsh and Peter Parker as a golden age, contrasting it favourably with today.

"While he makes some good points in relation to efficiency and the loss of engineering expertise since 1997, he otherwise recalls an entirely different British Rail to the one I knew.

"I remember customer service, restrictive practices and unreliability that were a national pantomime, not to mention the relentless campaign by British Rail itself for major line closures and service withdrawals long after the Beeching axe of the 1960s.

"Wolmar hails BR's marketing of its largely slow and unreliable inter-city services, but what I remember of the "Age of the Train" adverts was the hilarity that greeted their every appearance. It was this reality which made the railways prey to the great Tory ideological experiment of privatisation."

Alas, it looks like the archetypal sclerotic bank manager aboard the 8.15 is now in charge of our destiny.

But, perversely, when he was with Lady Vadera and the as yet, oddly, un-elevated Dan Corry he formed part of the cabal which drove Railtrack into Adminstration.

Indeed he was urging the prime minister to look at all viable options for Railtrack "including a possible return to the public sector".

Oh well, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.