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Why aren’t we making tracks?

June 20, 2019

  

I was sat among a bunch of cronies (sorry, associates) the other day sharing various travel horror stories. It suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t recall the last time I’d taken a train journey to the smoke.

 

It’s not too long that I was making an almost weekly 14-hour trek to Paddington and back again; and feeling none the better for it spiritually or financially.

 

There’s not enough space on this page for me to go into detail as to what I think is wrong with the UK rail system; but I’d argue that the systemic problems are unlikely to fixed by piecemeal solutions.

 

That’s why I’m unconvinced about the idea of a £25 million parkway station at Felindre. Partly because it takes away the option of getting on and off at Neath but mainly because those pushing the idea have patently never tried to exit from the site onto junction 46 at peak times.

 

A while back, I opted to close down the office (I was never there anyway) and work from home wherever possible. I’ve since come to embrace the joys of audio conferencing and even ‘Skyped’. As a result, my car mileage has dropped and rail travel is negligible.

 

I’d love to depict all this as my personal contribution towards saving the planet but the truth is that I’ve simply adjusted working methods to accommodate the appalling state of our infrastructure.

 

A recent survey by the National Railway Passenger Survey (NRPS) rates satisfaction levels among commuters as the lowest for a decade. That said, I recognise an element of speak-as-you-find regarding rail travel. A number of people I know rate the trains as generally reliable, albeit overcrowded and “a bit smelly”.

 

Like me, you might recall a time when Air Wales offered hour-long flights from Fairwood to London City Airport for £99 return. Sadly that didn’t last, thanks to a disgraceful lack of government support and some commercial sharp practice from competitors.

 

So it’s with a sense of irony that I read how the same officialdom, who also decided that rail electrification to Swansea would be ‘uneconomical’, is now smiling on the idea of a fast train service from London to Cardiff (only).

 

I rather think I’m going to be working home for some time to come.

 

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EU spectre will haunt next tory leader

 

I don’t know about you but I’m finding the inanity on the part of contestants in the process of attrition otherwise known as the Conservative leadership race is more than matched by the media coverage.

 

The headline news is that the contenders argued about Brexit. No kidding! – and there’s me thinking that the deadlock around the cabinet table for the last few years has been about what exact shade of blue should be used on new passports.

 

At the time of writing this there are still more MPs opposed to having Johnson as PM than those who think it’s a good idea. That could well change and it would be fitting if there was were 52-48% split between the two candidates finally presented to the membership.

 

Jokes aside though, whoever wins, and by whatever means, they will end up facing the spectre that has seen off a series of more capable predecessors in one way or another. None of them look up to it.

 

 

 

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© whiterock wales (2019)