The immortal comedy that was the late Leonard Rossiter who played Reginald Perrin, left many a classic line. One of which was the chap who each day caught his train for the daily commute not as the 0730 from Hemel Hampstead but as the Eleven Minutes late. It seems ironic given the present tales of woe that emanate daily about another disaster on the railways due to schedule changes or staff shortages, or indeed leaves on the line, or more topical given the present tropical sunshine, melting tracks that the Eleven Minutes Late is a common experience for today’s rail traveller.
The recent banging on about renationalising the UK railways that Jezer from the allotment has been advocating at Prime Ministers question time got me to thinking about an excellent article that I recently read from Norman Baker, the former Transport Secretary and all round good egg. He pointed out that it was a bit like Mr Corbyn had just woken up from a long coma, where he had nodded off in the 1970’s and just been reactivated in the 2018 where he found himself surprisingly reincarnated as the leader of the opposition. Obviously oblivious to all that has gone on before he has remained utterly true to his thinking on things like Trident, Israel, and trains and why they should be nationalised.
And here is where Norman is completely right, the truth is that the UK rail network is already nationalised. Mr Chris Grayling the Secretary Of State for Transport has far more control over the railways than anybody else. Bizarrely the more he talks about talking over failed operating Companies, all he is really saying is that he will take over the rest of the UK rail industry. Mr Corbyn states that any profits made from the railways should go straight back into the public purse and not into the hands of the bus barons who own the train sets. Well in truth it does not look like many operating Companies are making any money anyway.
The facts about the Uk rail network are actually that it has been a great success, it’s punctuality over the years has got better and better. It scores consistently highly overall for passenger satisfaction. The trains are full because a lot of people use them, and capacity has gone up and up. The media would have us believe that it is all a disaster, I catch trains quite a lot and overall have great experiences at a good price. The facts are that it is easy to gather around the banner of the trains are all broken, let’s fix it by nationalising the Rail industry. But in reality if you do it will actually get worse. Now, do escuse me I need to leave to catch my eleven minutes left because as usual it is operating eleven minutes early, or as I like to call it, on time!