The UK Train Network

What is it with the trains in this country?

I ask as I have been doing quite a bit of traveling recently for my business and I have thought I´ll take the train as I live no more than a stones throw from the local train station, plus I can work on the way to my clients if I take my laptop with me.

However, talk about an unreliable service. If the train isn´t late it either never turns up or when it does it´s completely full and you cant get to the seat you booked! Especially on the way out of London!

I recently needed to be in Stirling, and I had to be there before 11am. Can you get there on the train before this time? No. It takes 4 hours 40 minutes on the train and the first train isn´t until 7:10am. It took me 4 hours and 10 minutes to drive the distance and I wasn´t going too much over the speed limit and I stopped to have breakfast for 30 minutes just north of Carlisle. Plus I´d have to come back before 6pm on the train. Plus with the rail line being out of order between Macclesfield and Manchester this would have added to the journey. The station is now closed for north bound journeys to Manchester due to improvements to the lines. In most other countries these are done at night or at weekends or at the very least to one line at a time. But this is England and we close the train lines completely. For 3 months!

This means if I want to use the train I have to go to nearby Wilmslow, about 7 miles away. I can then get a train to Manchester. But its quicker to drive to Preston and catch the train from there, than drive to Wilmslow, Get the train to Manchester and then the train to where ever. South bound journeys are unaffected or are they?

I have also been down to London a few times over the past six months and have caught the early train from Macclesfield Station to London Euston which should arrive at 9:35am but on the three occasions I have used the train it has never arrived at this time. Once it even arrived at 10:40am!

I have effectively moved off the rail network now as the connections, timetables and trains are just too unreliable and slow for business travel.

I now fly whenever I go to London as the first plane leaves Manchester at 6:35am and gets to London at 7:40am. Okay I have to get up a bit earlier to get to Manchester Airport and Heathrow is a 30 minute tube ride out of London, but its miles more time efficient than going by train. AND its cheaper, okay only by £20 and I have to pay £18 for parking at Manchester, so effectively its £2 cheaper, but its 1000% more reliable.

Compared to the train systems in other countries the train system is in the UK needs a good kick up the backside to drag it into the 21st century. I am aware that the train lines in the UK are over 150 years old in places and they are poorly maintained/managed or in need of replacing, but whose fault is this? Not the commuters and if the operators knew they where in a bad state why didn´t they repair them then instead of waiting for them to become so bad that they have to close the lines to repair them.

I´ll tell you why because the train systems in the UK aren´t run for the people who use them, there run for benefit of the shareholders, with the attitude of “bugger the commuter” who relies on the service.

Compared to most of Europe our rail system is crap. Do you know its quicker to get the train from Amsterdam to Paris than it is to Fly? That´s because the train system has had investment put into it.

Another example is the last time I was in Japan. There was a big earthquake near Mt Fuji and it damaged a large section of the Shinkansen tracks, about 40 Kilometres in total. It took 2 days to repair the line and get the Shinkansen running at 300kph again!

Just 2 days.

If this happened in the UK we´d be lucky if it took 2 years!

Something has to be done about the train system in the UK, after all it used to be the best train system in the world about 100 years ago!

Another thing while where on the subject of public transport. If the government is intent on pricing the motorist off the road with large taxes and road tolls, how are all the motorists supposed to travel? By rail? I don´t think so. The train system needs to improve vastly before motorists will leave their cars at home in favor of public transport. It needs to get quicker, become more convenient, become cleaner (Last train I traveled on was filthy) and if anything, you need more space.

If the train companies want to see what a real train service looks like they should look at Japan, Or Holland, as in my experience both these countries have a superb rail system. I hardly ever drive in Japan.

To finish public transport should be about the Public, not about how much money can we make or how can we save money by cutting services and more importantly safety (something which also needs severely looking at in the UK, how many train crashes has this country had in the past 10 years?)

So train companies, sort your bloody act out before you find the only thing you moving around the network is fresh air because all your trains are empty!

Also if you where the train guard on the Virgin train from Manchester to Macclesfield on Saturday, 19th April, next time somebody asks you “Excuse me mate, does this train stop at Macclesfield” you reply “Yes sir!”or “Yes it does” not “This is first class!” like I´m a bloody idiot, and if somebody asks you the question again you don´t reply “This is first class” again.

I don´t expect to have to ask 5 times to get the answer I was looking for.

I was looking for the correct train and just because I was wearing a jacket and jeans doesn´t mean I cant afford first class, of which I had a ticket for anyway as you well know now.

This was a special Journey me and my wife had made to go shopping, so answer the question next time! “Arse Hole”

For more about the rail system click here.

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