Wrong priorities

Have you ever wondered why the railways – since privatisation, I suspect, although I may be wrong – are always almost paralysed by “essential engineering works” every Easter, Whitsun, Tattie and Trades periods holidays?

I have. I first thought that it was because the average number of commuters moving around on any working day exceeded the number of folk thronging to the stations at holiday times: in other words a simple choice to inconvenience the least number of people.

But the stations don’t look like that, do they? A simple keek into Waverley on Good Friday revealed many times the usual week-day users. Holiday times are in fact the peak periods, when more people want to use the trains than the rest of the year. So why not spread the engineering over the working year? The old socialist in me suspects that if commuters, God forbid, began to turn up for work a little late, and the tills of commerce rattled a little slower for a few days, the captains of industry would soon be on the telephone to their equivalent in Network Rail: nothing must be allowed to impede the progress of the great commercial god.

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Isn’t it time the efficiency of the rail network was maximised to prioritise the needs of ordinary folk?


Calton Road