Tag Archives: take the train

Happy Holidays, ASLEF

Christmas and New Year are a holiday season. For two days, the 25th and 26th of December, we enjoy an extra weekend, always granted on those days no matter where it falls in the week, so secure that even when those days fall on Saturday and Sunday, you get an extra two days off Monday and Tuesday.

But then, there are essential services, where people have to work – medical staff, care staff, other less visible services. We’d agree – right? – that someone who works on Christmas Day to provide essential services ought be compensated for it, that someone who works on Boxing Day should be earning a bit extra, that even if they’re getting an extra day’s leave to make up for the day they’re working, they ought also to get more pay for working a day when there’s a reduced shift, when most people are getting to relax with their families and friends.

And we’d agree – right? – that short of emergency, there ought to be an element of choice. If someone’s got to work on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, it ought to be because they’ve chosen to give up their holiday in favour of the extra pay. Everyone’s got a right to work, to be treated as a free worker, not as a machine.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transport

For Science!

I was on the train last night from Helensburgh to Waverley. By the time I got on, the train was more or less empty: I picked the nearest empty group of seats so that I could take the giant Eskimo coat of warmth off and was about to settle down to reading Darwin’s Watch and texting Kreetch, when I noticed something weird on the window for the seats opposite.

Chocolates on window

Chocolates window on train Taking a closer look, I realised that they didn’t just look like chocolates stuck to the window, they were chocolates that had been stuck on the window. Someone had taken five little moulded chocolates and fixed them on the window glass.

Weird.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Children, Chocolate, Education, Public Transport

George Osborne, chancellor of the dodge

Today, George Osborne got into a first-class carriage in a train to Euston, with a standard-class ticket.

Everybody knows what’s happened to the trains since they were licensed to private companies: impenetrable rules, incomprehensible fares, crazy fees if you have to make a short-notice decision. It has nothing to do with any “true price” for the journey, only the vast amounts they can get away with if you have no choice. Let’s be honest, it’s extortion. A medieval landlord could name his own tithes if people had nowhere else to go and East Midlands Trains is clearly inspired by those happy days.Victoria Coren

Osborne, if you want First Class services, you've got to PAY for them!Unfortunately for him, Rachel Townsend, Granada Reports Correspondent, was on the train with an iPhone and not afraid to use it:

Very interesting train journey to Euston Chancellor George Osborne just got on at Wilmslow with a STANDARD ticket and he has sat in FIRST CLASS. His aide tells ticket collector he cannot possibly move and sit with the likes of us in standard class and requests he is allowed to remain in First Class. Ticket collector refuses #standoff – Digital Spy

George Osborne earns £134,565 a year as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Travel

Conservative Transport

With 70 million people ­passing through every year, Heathrow Airport is full up. How we solve the problems facing the UK’s most vital gateway is an issue for the whole country, Scotland included.Ruth Davidson, Best solution to Scotland’s air dilemma is third runway at Heathrow

Conservative politicians disregard global warming and climate change in much the same way as the Judas goat ignores the slaughterhouse employees with stun guns and knives. They know where their money comes from. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based climate change denialist body, is chaired by Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s Chancellor: they can’t be questioned directly about the sources of their funding, but some freedom of information requests about these anti-scientists interaction with government bodies can be found at WhatDoTheyKnow.

So it’s not surprising that Ruth Davidson, new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, should publicly favour a third runway at Heathrow. When Tim Yeo is demanding David Cameron prove he’s a man and not a mouse (mice don’t build runways), it’s turned into what Simon Jenkins inelegantly describes as “big willy politics” – will David Cameron prove he’s man enough to thrust the third runway into Heathrow despite a cross-party consensus against it? In circumstances like that, what’s surprising is not that Ruth Davidson wrote an article about her support for the third runway: it’s just odd she aimed for Scotland on Sunday instead of the Telegraph.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transport, Sustainable Politics, Travel

Alan White: taken for a ride

Why we’re still being taken for a ride by our train companies:

The great irony is that somehow all this mess hasn’t created that terrible a service. Anyone who thinks renationalisation is a silver bullet hasn’t spent six hours in the waiting room at a provincial station on the Continent with no air conditioning and nothing but the town lunatic’s thousand-yard-stare to keep you company; pretty much my summer of Interrailing in microcosm.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transport, Travel

We pay more

If you live in Edinburgh and get a job paid at minimum wage, you would need to work for four hours to buy your return rail ticket to Glasgow.

Actually, you would have to work for five hours, because you probably wouldn’t be able to afford to buy a £3000+ annual season ticket.

Travelling by bus will take at least half an hour more either way (an additional hour’s commute time) but cost about 75% less.

A petition to renationalise the railways got 12,194 signatures before it closed on 4th August this year.

Research by the Scottish Greens [Yes, they looked it up on the Internet and everything] has found that the current cost of a 12-month season ticket between Edinburgh and Glasgow (£3380) is more than the cost of a 12-month ticket that gives you unlimited travel across the whole of Germany’s 21,000 mile network (£3252/€3990). After today’s announcement, the cost of this season ticket is expected to rise by £142 in January.

Edinburgh Fringe: A Beginner’s Diary:

I fly. I know; so bourgeois. I don’t feel good about it, but it was half as expensive as the train, and I am very poor. It isn’t me that needs to change, you guys. IT’S THE SYSTEM. It takes 50 minutes, and is ludicrously easy. I feel like I can begin to understand why rich people are always such thoughtless dicks about things.

Theresa Villiers, who seems to be getting referred to as “Rail Minister” a lot – who knew we had one? – last year called these fare rises “difficult” decisions and blamed the budget deficit.

The rises are part of the government’s agenda to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of running the rail network.

There appears to be a steady delusion among Conservatives that if you pay taxes, you don’t travel by train.

Theresa Villiers, by the way, doesn’t seem to travel by train. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transport

Pedal on Parliament: Holyrood

On Saturday 28th April, hundreds of cyclists and supporters of cycling will converge on Parliament.

We’re asking everyone who cycles in Scotland – or who would like to cycle, or would like their families to cycle, but who doesn’t feel safe – to join us for a big ride of our own – and a big picnic. Young and old, keen commuter or weekend pedaller, fit or not – you don’t even need to be on a bike. You just need to show up and add your voice to help make Scotland safe for cycling.

Given the weather in Scotland, it would be unwise to plan on doing the cycle ride naked, though in Peru a massed protest against dangerous conditions for cyclists did just that:

“This is our body. With this, we go out in the streets. We don’t have a car to protect us.” -Octavio Zegarra

I don’t cycle for historical reasons – bus drivers and roundabouts scare me – even though there is a considerable network of cycle paths that make use of the disused space where the light rail network used to be.

When a cyclist was killed by a taxi in Corstorphine last Monday Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Public Transport, Scottish Politics, Sustainable Politics

Trams? Trams? Look over there – a spaceship!

On Saturday 3rd March 2012 Edinburgh bus fares are going to go up. Again.

The bus fares change in 2012 will be the fourth rise since 2006, when a single bus fare went up to £1: In April 2008 to £1.10, then in January 2009 to £1.20, which was blamed on rising labour costs. In 2011, to £1.30, it was blamed on fuel costs: in 2012, a single fare will be £1.40 – and now it’s the withdrawal of the grant and the fall in passenger numbers due to the trams. Whatever the reason, that’s a rise of 175%40% (pre-coffee calculations) in 6 years.

Princes Street will still be covered in roadworks as they try, once more, to get the lines straight. The obstacle course that we scrambled through on Leith Walk was entirely pointless – they don’t now plan to build tramlines any further than St Andrews Square. The route will run in parallel with the trainline from Haymarket all the way to Edinburgh Airport, where it would have been entirely possible to build a halt, a connecting bridge, lifts, and a feeder road to the airport buildings with a fleet of accessible buses, in half the time and for a fraction of the cost.

On 3rd March 2007 the Scottish Government released £60M for Edinburgh Council’s big trams project. Tavish Scott, the MSP for Shetland, then the Transport Minister, said:

“Trams will give passengers a safe, environmental travel choice, a choice which will see reduced congestion and reduced emissions.

“The utilities agreement that has been put in place is the right approach. Allowing a single contractor to do all the work will minimise disruption in the Capital, save money and ensure the delivery of the project. That is welcome news for Edinburgh.”

Yes, it would have been, wouldn’t it? Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Public Transport, Scottish Politics

Tramacle: Take the Train

In this morning’s Scotland on Sunday, Kenny Farquharson, the former Political Editor and now the Deputy Editor, writes that the only thing that can save Edinburgh from the tramacle is for Alex Salmond to put the trams on the right track.

I’d been directed there from Twitter by several people I follow who thought it was a great article, but:

It’s crucial we find an efficient way of whisking visitors – be they tourists or business people – away from the airport as quickly and comfortably as possible to the bus and rail connections that can take them to wherever in Scotland they are heading

Oh Kenny, how can you have lived in Edinburgh for 23 years and never taken the train from Waverley into Fife over the Forth Rail Bridge? (Well worth doing, by the way – when I was an Edinburgh-Rosyth commuter, every weekday morning I’d look up from my reading as the sound of the rails told me we were reaching the bridge, and let the glorious burst of view over the Forth feast my eyes: and notice that all through the carriage, commuters who saw this view twice a day every working day, were looking up from their work or the coffee wide-eyed to enjoy.)

But this post is not about the Forth Rail Bridge. Simply that if you ever had, you’d have known that the “efficient way” to whisk visitors from airport to train already exists.

(Mind you, the Airlink buses are pretty efficient as airport connector buses go – airport to city centre in less than half an hour: comfortable and inexpensive.)

You see, the railway line runs right past the airfield. All we need is to build a halt (platforms either side and a connecting bridge): a feeder road from the halt to the airport itself: and a fleet of buses to take passengers from halt to airport. If we hadn’t already wasted so much money on the Edinburgh Tram Debacle (the Broughton Spurtle* suggests Tramacle as the appropriate name) we could have considered more expensive options, but the beauty of the plan to build a halt, a bridge, and a road is that it’s possible Edinburgh Airport could expand on this when it’s proved successful.

That project, which was the most obvious solution even back when Edinburgh Trams were first mooted, has become even more appealling now Waverley Station is in the process of making itself accessible for the 21st century. But Haymarket station is already accessible, with lifts to all platforms and to street level.

We don’t even need a new set of expensive trains, as London has done for train connections to Heathrow: we just need to add a new stop on the line. Even more efficient than the Airlink buses, far cheaper than any trams project, and neatly allowing tourists who intend to land at Edinburgh and travel to other parts of Scotland to do so seamlessly.

The original plan to replace the 22 bus route with a tram line that could whisk people from Newhaven to the airport didn’t have much of a point to it: the current plan, which amounts to replacing the Airlink buses as far as Haymarket with a tramline that will cost over a billion, is so monstrously stupid I cannot believe anyone who knows Edinburgh transport could listen to it with a straight face, let alone vote for it! We need to take the train, not build a brand new tram line that replicates the train route!

Incidentally, Edinburgh Trams have already cost more than covering Princes Street with gold. Let’s not throw more gold on the streets. Please.

*Update: Greener Leith seems to have been the originator: Twitter misled me. There’s a slideshow at the Greener Leith blog of Twitter reactions to the Edinburgh Council debate:

to give you a sense of the strength of feeling the debate has produced. It would seem most Leithers simply want to get Leith Walk repaired as quickly as possible.

Amen to that.


Update: on Twitter, last night, I got into a discussion with Tom Parnell (@ArchHist) who asserted and repeatedly defended that the #TakeTheTrain alternative to the trams is not workable because it would require more trains which would require building new lines which would require rebuilding Waverley Station, all of which would cost billions. (He also asserted that the Airlink bus service, which can get you from the airport to Edinburgh in 15 minutes to half an hour depending on traffic, is “not mass transit!” but I’ve been on a lot worse and more expensive bus-connections between airports and city centre in my travels.)

There is a purpose-built trainlink between Paddington Station in London and Heathrow Airport. Trains run every fifteen minutes and take fifteen minutes there and back.

The trainlink between Waverley Station and Edinburgh Airport, presuming only existing rail lines and the same train frequency as now were used, would run four times an hour and take less than fifteen minutes to reach the airport. So the argument dismissing #TakeTheTrain as too costly presumes that Edinburgh Airport will need a faster and more frequent train service from Edinburgh than Heathrow does from London.

Edinburgh Airport saw 8,596,715 passengers in 2010.

Heathrow Airport saw 67 million passengers in 2010.

Seriously?

Leave a comment

Filed under Public Transport, Scottish Politics