Thursday 19 December 2013

Southern Railway - Ho Ho Ho! [1]

Part One : A Particular Problem is Posed

No 3 son is a commuter. He makes a daily work journey from Shoreham-by-Sea ("A" bottom of map) to Watford (top left of centre).
A brisk walk from his pad, over the Adur Ferry Bridge ...
... through the town, across the level crossing and in through the back door of the station.
There may be time to grab a coffee from the "annoyingly cheerful" man in the little kiosk ...
... before taking his seat on the London train.
                0712   Shoreham-by-Sea
                0825   London Victoria
                0830   London Victoria
                0845   London Euston
                0854   London Euston
                0911   Watford Junction

The lad came for a Christmas visit to sunny Seaton last weekend; and posed a question of mind-shattering importance. "Should I go to work on 29th, 30th and 31st December?" Apparently the on-train and on-platform announcement computers had been prophesying universal doom and disaster for any brainless commuters who might be foolish enough to commute on those dates.

"Can you find out what's happening,?" queried the young sir.

Always ready to accept a challenge, fbb set off on a voyage equivalent to the exploits of Beowulf. 

Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him,
son of Scyld, in the Scandian lands.
So becomes it a youth to quit him well
with his father’s friends, by fee and gift,
that to aid him, aged, in after days,
come warriors willing, should war draw nigh,
liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds
shall an earl have honor in every clan.
Forth he fared at the fated moment ...

There is a booklet.
It is a thick volume indeed; and begins with a headline about Gatwick Express.
There isn't any GatEx over the holiday period!

The next paragraphs look as if they apply to Gatwick Express only; but this is a typographical delusion. Everything that runs through Gatwick is affected. Journey times are substantially extended; in the case of Shoreham-by-Sea from just over an hour to about two and a half hours!
But you don't get any compensation because, cleverly, they only pay out if the published timetable fails. And the disruption timetable IS the published timetable. 

But where is the timetable?
There are no times at all in the umpteen pages of the booklet; it is simply a "daily summary".

There are times advertised on line ...
... but for 2009 - and thus not much help!

fbb could not find any on-line timetables for the disruption; only a downloadable copy of the mega-booklet. So we had better investigate its contents with a little more rigour.

Before tomorrow's blog, readers are invited to do their homework and study and inwardly digest this little table ...
... and be ready to utilise their knowledge in understanding tomorrow's (and subsequent?) blogs.
 fbb's Advent Calendar for 2013 
Thursday 19th December

David thought he had got away with pinching Uriah's beautiful bathing wife by sending her hubby, Uriah, to certain death in battle. But, says the Bible, God knew; and revealed the bad news via a holy man called Nathan.
David was distraught and totally repentant, as he later wrote:-

I recognize my faults;
I am always conscious of my sins.
I have sinned against you, only against you,
and done what you consider evil.
So you are right in judging me;
you are justified in condemning me.
I have been evil from the day I was born;
 from the time I was conceived, I have been sinful.

Create a pure heart in me, O God,
and put a new and loyal spirit in me.

David and Bathsheba's son, Solomon, became King. He was famous for his wealth, for his wisdom ...
... encapsulated in the account of his stunningly wise judgment in a dispute about baby ownership.

In "The Judgment of Solomon", two women came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel over which was the true mother of a baby. When Solomon suggested they should divide the living child in two with a sword, one woman said she would rather give up the child than see it killed. Solomon then declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, and gave the baby to her.

Solomon used some of his wealth to build the first Temple.
For a while, at least, you would have to agree that Solomon was a successful King. BUT ...

Even though the Lord, the God of Israel, had appeared to Solomon twice and had commanded him not to worship foreign gods, Solomon did not obey the Lord but turned away from him. So the Lord was angry with Solomon and said to him, “Because you have deliberately broken your covenant with me and disobeyed my commands, I promise that I will take the kingdom away from you.

And that's exactly what happened!

Too much power and too much wealth leads to arrogance; a belief that you can do anything you want with impunity. This privilege of freewill seems to be a very dangerous tool; here we see the beginnings of the collapse of the Kingdom. But much, much worse is to come.

Tragically, we see similar events today.

Perhaps the real Christmas is more desperately needed than we might, at first, think.
 Next rail blog : Friday 20th December 


  1. Well, I did my homework, followed the instructions on the first page of the booklet to go to National Rail Enquiries, and found out the relevant information in a few minutes to answer "probably not" to the original question. I then finished reading the rest of the booklet out of morbid curiosity and wished I hadn't bothered.

  2. Indeed - there's MUCH more to come!