Friday 29 August 2014

Foot in Mouth? In Praise of our MPs (?)

Livery Delivery : Confusion Profusion [2]
will appear later next week
It's actually quite difficult to do ...
... but our politicians try very hard; and often success.

There was a bit of a problem at Ipswich over the recent bank holiday weekend. Engineering work overran much to everybody's surprise. (NOT!)
Several morning peak hour trains were cancelled and things only got back to "normal" from about 1030. Then other problems occurred and later in the day things got worse again.

Douglas Carswell was incensed!
John Douglas Wilson Carswell (born 3 May 1971) is a British Conservative Party politician. He is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Clacton, having been first elected as MP for Harwich in 2005.

Something should be done, and quickly. So he posted a tweet:-
Sadly, young Carswell doesn't seems to know that Abellio Greater Anglia is not the bĂȘte noir this time. The company comes pretty low in a "popularity" poll, second from bottom in fact, according to a survey by "Which" magazine.
But statistics can be misleading. Even "Which" admits that the average of all the companies is only 49% which makes Anglia's 40 seem less heinous. But there's surveys and there's surveys. Whom do you believe? The Rail Delivery Group (The Association of Train Operating Companies in heavy disguise) have a different set of stats.

The Which? scores are markedly lower than the passenger satisfaction results collated by the watchdog Passenger Focus from a far bigger sample. However, Which? said its scoring system, based on overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend a company, used the same criteria it employed for other markets. Respondents were polled in early January, soon after the latest price rises.

The Rail Delivery Group [RDG]  said: "As we acknowledged last month when the independent watchdog found that more than four out of five passengers were satisfied with their overall journey, the industry needs to build on the improvements it has delivered over the last 15 years."

That's an average of 80%. But the RDG would say that, wouldn't they?

But Carswell has inserted foot. Engineering work is the the job of Notwork Rail.
Trains were cancelled on Tuesday, August 26 because of over-running engineering works at Ipswich. It follows a day of misery for commuters after over-running Network Rail work led to a series of cancellations to early-morning services. The early termination of services this evening will last until midnight.

A signalling equipment fault between Ipswich and Manningtree and a broken down train between Colchester and Manningtree added to this morning’s train problems. According to Greater Anglia, there were delays of up to 60 minutes.

The incident came just hours after Network Rail bosses said they were confident the work would be completed on time and trains would be running as normal ...

... between London and the region following the two-day track closure at Ipswich.

It is the 10th time in six years the company has been unable to complete work on schedule on the Great Eastern Main Line.

Of course, things may change in wildest Essex now that Mr Carswell has jumped ship, resigned from the Conservatives and joined UKIP.
Is this the ultimate manifestation of foot and mouth disease?

We may well wonder what key transport policy ideas will emanate from the inventive mind of Farage and his chums.

Transport Policy
We will make customer satisfaction number one for rail firms; not cost cutting and will look seriously at reopening some rail lines that Beeching closed. We will make foreign lorries pay for British roads with a ‘Britdisc’ and we will stop persecuting motorists.

Yeah, right!

Back to Ipswich and its problems.

Others have proffered some opinions on the engineering faux fas!
At least the BBC gets it right, as does MP Gummer. That's not John Gummer ...
... who left parliament in 2010. But his little boy, Benedict, known as "Ben".
He wants to see heads roll at Notwork Rail. And if the press reports are correct (if?) then he is right to make the call.

On Ben's web site, he claims to be working hard to improve rail services for Ipswich.
Leaving aside the misuse of the word "regular" for frequent, what does that last phrase mean? Currently Nederlandse Spoorwegen run a train every 30 minutes from Ipswich to London ...
... so Ben's aspiration for a train every 60 minutes may be tough to deliver!
Perhaps he wants to chop 10 minutes off the running time. Perhaps this is part of the Norwich in Ninety campaign which Ben has latched on to.
Chancellor George Osborne has announced a new taskforce to look at speeding up journey times to East Anglia to drive growth in the region. Plans for a new expert group charged with finding ways to speed up rail services to the East of England by as much as 25% have been set out by the Chancellor. The new taskforce will be made up of Department for Transport officials, experts from Network Rail, and local MPs.

Sounds a wizzo idea but, well ... next year is election year.

Cynical, moi?

fbb wonders whether Ben has told his constituents that the project is costed at £550 million at the moment. Past experience suggests that the figure may double before the project is competed in ... when? And will Ben support the next ten years' ticket price increases to pay for it? Seems a lot of lolly to get Essex man (and woman) to their desks a few minutes earlier.

 Next bus blog : Saturday 30th August 

1 comment:

  1. I think there are quite a large number of other places and rail routes that also have good arguments for having their journey times reduced, frequencies increased and the addition of more capacity!

    But it all looks good with an election approaching to bang the drum and promise 'action'!!

    The industry response is usually that there is insufficient track capacity on the approaches to London or that they cannot extend platforms to accommodate longer trains (without getting into arguments about selective door control!). Thameslink will answer some of that but can only accommodate so many extra trains on the north south axis and there are already people 'spitting tin tacks' because they are not getting all or any of the benefit they had expected from that scheme.