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Gigantic Purple Slug

British Rail

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All this talk about renationalisation of the railways.

Will we go back to the glory days of British Rail. 

Endless waiting on freezing platforms for trains that never arrived and eventually got cancelled leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Awful sandwiches and coffee.

Those compartments where you had a corridor outside and someone would take their shoes off and gas you with smelly feet.

None of the ridiculous ticket pricing maze with only one ticket.

Toilets full of sick and jammed up with loads of bog paper.

Navigating your way past football fans fighting on the platform.

It's few years since I went on a train but am starting to feel quite nostalgic.

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2 minutes ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

All this talk about renationalisation of the railways.

Will we go back to the glory days of British Rail. 

Endless waiting on freezing platforms for trains that never arrived and eventually got cancelled leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Awful sandwiches and coffee.

Those compartments where you had a corridor outside and someone would take their shoes off and gas you with smelly feet.

None of the ridiculous ticket pricing maze with only one ticket.

Toilets full of sick and jammed up with loads of bog paper.

Navigating your way past football fans fighting on the platform.

It's few years since I went on a train but am starting to feel quite nostalgic.

Are you sure you're not confusing it with the Hogwarts Express?

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1 minute ago, EmmaRoid said:

Are you sure you're not confusing it with the Hogwarts Express?

Dunno, not read the books or seen the movies - saw the train set so know what it is.

Journerys on British rail trains have got to have been one of the most unspeakably awful things ever. Although I admit to never trying national express.

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2 minutes ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Dunno, not read the books or seen the movies - saw the train set so know what it is.

Journerys on British rail trains have got to have been one of the most unspeakably awful things ever. Although I admit to never trying national express.

Worse than Ryanair?

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2 minutes ago, EmmaRoid said:

Worse than Ryanair?

Dunno. I used to fly a lot but not much now. I think maybe 15 years ago i might have taken a Ryan Air flight. Can't remember it being particularly bad. I do Easyjet to Spain a couple of times a year on business, that seems ok. Compared with the horror of British Rail it's not too bad.

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16 minutes ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

All this talk about renationalisation of the railways.

Will we go back to the glory days of British Rail. 

Endless waiting on freezing platforms for trains that never arrived and eventually got cancelled leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Awful sandwiches and coffee.

Those compartments where you had a corridor outside and someone would take their shoes off and gas you with smelly feet.

None of the ridiculous ticket pricing maze with only one ticket.

Toilets full of sick and jammed up with loads of bog paper.

Navigating your way past football fans fighting on the platform.

It's few years since I went on a train but am starting to feel quite nostalgic.

Sounds like a standard day on Southern Rail.

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27 minutes ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

All this talk about renationalisation of the railways.

Will we go back to the glory days of British Rail. 

Endless waiting on freezing platforms for trains that never arrived and eventually got cancelled leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Awful sandwiches and coffee.

Those compartments where you had a corridor outside and someone would take their shoes off and gas you with smelly feet.

None of the ridiculous ticket pricing maze with only one ticket.

Toilets full of sick and jammed up with loads of bog paper.

Navigating your way past football fans fighting on the platform.

It's few years since I went on a train but am starting to feel quite nostalgic.

Me too. It wasn't all bad. 

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We seem to only have two mind-sets for these utilities:

  • Crap public sector (olden days)
  • Expensive and subsidised and still a bit crap but better than before private sector (nowish).

I don't really understand why we can't just have half decent services provided by the public sector and without paying out loads of £££s to corporates.  I know it was crap 40 years ago, but that doesn't mean it has to be crap now.  

[but, arguing against myself, pretty much any public sector organisation that I interact with is clearly more inefficient that it needs to be.  Not that individuals are usually a problem, but the whole public sector monster of it all.  I've said before that the job of any public sector body is to get as much income as possible from central government; there is never any incentive to be efficient.  But, then again, the job of all these 'private industries' like the railways seems to be to get as much money out of their monopolistic situation, and on top of that get as much money out of government as possible as subsidy, so it probably couldn't get any worse.]

 

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Going by train is mostly quite pleasant  The same as it has always been. Food quality tends to be unpredictable, the same as it's always been. Train travel in Europe is mostly nicer, because Europe is mostly nicer.

 

I don't understand why we can't have some sort of unified overall controll, timetabling, ticketing etc, but the operation of services, maintenance etc still franchised to TOCs 

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At least BR didn't stick ****ing over the top ugly heavy duty security fencing everywhere, and the trains were at least trains and less sardine can buses and trams (although they were well enough along that path anyway so privatisation wouldn't have changed that).

Plus sides to the railway now? It's a bit more reliable time-wise, although still far from perfect, and doesn't have quite the same "it's all about to fall down" feeling it did. Downsides? It's cheap and nasty crap that still manages to cost a fortune.

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5 hours ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

All this talk about renationalisation of the railways.

Will we go back to the glory days of British Rail. 

Endless waiting on freezing platforms for trains that never arrived and eventually got cancelled leaving you stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Awful sandwiches and coffee.

Those compartments where you had a corridor outside and someone would take their shoes off and gas you with smelly feet.

None of the ridiculous ticket pricing maze with only one ticket.

Toilets full of sick and jammed up with loads of bog paper.

Navigating your way past football fans fighting on the platform.

It's few years since I went on a train but am starting to feel quite nostalgic.

Most sandwiches, and definitely coffee was crap back then.

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The biggest problem is that 99% of people have no idea how the railways operate but like to moan endlessly about it.

The number of people using the railways in the last 20 years has doubled, but other than the odd new line here and there, there is pretty much still the still rail network we've had since the 1960's.

Network Rail are a government organisation, they maintain the railways and now even carry out some of the track renewals. Nationalisation wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference there.

I'll agree having a whole host of TOC's is completely unnecessary and they should pass control of the trains to Network Rail as well.

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6 hours ago, Gigantic Purple Slug said:

Was there British Rail on the Isle of Wight ?

 

Yes. They owned the Portsmouth-Ryde passenger and car ferry routes, and ran the island trains, even when the railways went all over the island. Beeching reduced the railways to the current Ryde to Shanklin line, which has old tube trains as rolling stock - it's really ropey nowadays. 

Edit to say pricing for the ferries was much better then for residents and tickets were interchangeable between BR and the other ferry company so if you missed the last ferry at one port you could drive to the other and get on another without having to pay another fare. Sadly all gone in these days of demand-pricing. 

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2 hours ago, choochoo said:

The biggest problem is that 99% of people have no idea how the railways operate but like to moan endlessly about it.

The number of people using the railways in the last 20 years has doubled, but other than the odd new line here and there, there is pretty much still the still rail network we've had since the 1960's.

Network Rail are a government organisation, they maintain the railways and now even carry out some of the track renewals. Nationalisation wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference there.

I'll agree having a whole host of TOC's is completely unnecessary and they should pass control of the trains to Network Rail as well.

GBR_rail_passenegers_by_year.gif

I wonder to what extent the "privatisation" increase is actually due to house prices and nothing to do with whose name is stuck on the side of the train. As house prices near major employment centres increase people commute in from further away.

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56 minutes ago, Dorkins said:

GBR_rail_passenegers_by_year.gif

I wonder to what extent the "privatisation" increase is actually due to house prices and nothing to do with whose name is stuck on the side of the train. As house prices near major employment centres increase people commute in from further away.

ATM London's mainline stations see about 500 million passengers per year.  I recon London alone is responsible for a fair proportion of that increase.  I doubt that many lines/areas have seen that passenger profile for the last 50 years.

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14 hours ago, Steppenpig said:

Going by train is mostly quite pleasant  The same as it has always been. Food quality tends to be unpredictable, the same as it's always been. Train travel in Europe is mostly nicer, because Europe is mostly nicer.

 

I don't understand why we can't have some sort of unified overall controll, timetabling, ticketing etc, but the operation of services, maintenance etc still franchised to TOCs 

too many franchises,mostly owned by foreign state owned enterprises, is the problem.

 

it could be streamlined,and still intoduce a bit of competition, and frankly better fares.

make it say 9 or 10 regional franchises, ie southeast,southwest,anglian  for metropolitan(slow trains)

1 franchise for cross country semi-fast express

1 franchise for intercity proper-fast express.

 

then they could introduce useful stuff like regional railcards, I think ony scotrail and network(southeast) card are available at the moment.However there seems to be a myriad of pointless this line only if you can prove you live in that street in the area-types,which frankly are worth scrapping.

the only other national cards they do is mostly for travel in families/groups,or students.

across in europe DB(german railway) is a pretty effective system

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14 hours ago, Steppenpig said:

Going by train is mostly quite pleasant  The same as it has always been. Food quality tends to be unpredictable, the same as it's always been. Train travel in Europe is mostly nicer, because Europe is mostly nicer.

I don't understand why we can't have some sort of unified overall control, timetabling, ticketing etc, but the operation of services, maintenance etc still franchised to TOCs 

Yes, the actual journeys are pretty similar (although the mainline services are nice and fast, and more comfortable).

HOWEVER, tickets are hugely expensive, and complex to the point that it always feels like a scam. A lot of the branch lines and cross-country routes have gone too, so it is also a worse network.

As for mainland Europe: I used to use the trains quite a bit in the Netherlands (especially), and also in Germany. In the Netherlands, it's essentially a single operator (NS) for the main lines, and it's efficient, cheap (cheaper than petrol for the same journey when I was there), and a frequent (uncrowded) and extensive service. People moan about it (it's the Netherlands!), but I had no complaints. I believe they went through a process of having independent operators running different bits of the main line services, but reversed that, as it was a bad idea (I'll have to read up on the history). The Dutch are pretty good at reversing decisions if they don't work out; it's not like the UK, where a "U-turn" is political suicide, so you keep on going until you hit the rocks.

Germany (DB) was even better (especially east Germany, which is a source of some irritation among western Germans). However, you had to put up with the station architecture, which typically has a sort of monumental concrete thousand-year-reich vibe to it, which I found unspeakably depressing.

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Travellng by train has become a gradually worse experience over my lifetime. It's significant that the best trains to travel on these days are probably the oldest (out of the ones in regular service) - the HSTs, although to be fair they're one of BR's few big successes. Cramped, table-less seats, ever-uglier view from the window (not just because of what lies beyond the railway boundary), only basic catering services onboard. None of those make up for more frequent services (although that isn't a bad thing) or faster ones (couldn't give a **** about that). It's probably inevitable when you try to cram as many passengers as they're doing into a network that's much smaller than the last time it had this many, and as I said the general air of decay is largely gone (to be replaced by one of official vandalism); the net result is I'm rather less likely to take the train than I was 20 years ago.

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What gets to me most is seeing charter trains, pulled by a century old steam locomotive, which seem to be typically made up of around 14 carriages. We then have modern trains, packed like sardines, seeming to have at most 9 carriages, and on the line I use, often 3 or 4 carriages. 

It may seem an out of the box idea, but surely it would be really simple to add a few extra carriages to trains so that the comfort of the cargo is increased? 

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Benchmarking.

How did British Rail compare with services on the continent back then against how the subsidised private firms compare to continent today?

Comparing a service 30 years ago to that of today is pretty non sensical. 

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