Great Western Railway

On Friday I inflicted a journey by rail to Cardiff and back on myself.

GWR spent a fortune on designing and buying very uncomfortable seats. They have little padding and a severe back angle. They quickly give you back ache. The HS 120 seats they replaced were more comfortable .

I had a pre booked seat on my ticket. Once again the seat booking system was not working on the outbound train. Fortunately there were some seats. The train had been cut back to just five coaches. It did run to time which was an important  bonus.

On the way home they  cancelled one train. My train arrived late and was crowded thanks to the cancellation which had left many people waiting on the platform.The train continued to run late.

Car parking was expensive at Reading. Getting a taxi back to Cardiff Station required making an advance payment to a taxi firm, a new hazard. Fortunately the taxi did turn up to honour the contract. Overall it was an expensive way of travelling with plenty of car and taxi diesel as well as the electricity for the train on a day of little renewable power. Far from green.

The lack of flexibility with the ticket meant I had to get the train specified even though I could have made an earlier one which would have had more space.

The train controllers in Whitehall need to relax their controls more, or take a more intelligent  interest in why potential users of the railway have poor experiences. Uncomfortable   trains  can be remedied . Inflexible ticketing  can be changed, Poor timetabling to manage demand can be optimised without cancellations. Much more thought needs to be given to how a person travels to and from the stations.This link and cost is an integral part of a so called train journey and often falls foul of anti taxi/car schemes in the centres of cities and towns near stations. It adds to delays and frustrations.

I could have been better off driving by motorway to Cardiff, avoiding the centre and urban area of Cardiff with the station altogether. I went to a venue close to a motorway exit.

.

 

122 Comments

  1. Peter
    June 10, 2024

    Broken Britain. You may have had issues even if you chose to drive all the way – roadworks and congestion are a big problem around here. Plus there is the 20mph speed limit and ULEZ to add to expensive and restricted parking.

    Railways are fragmented and we are no longer a major player in the manufacture of train rolling stock.

    Privatisation was a failure for rail and other important public utilities.

    Reply It is nationalised Network Rail that lets us down and sends us a huge bill

    Reply
    1. jerry
      June 10, 2024

      @JR reply; But your complaint is about the standard of service given by a private TOC, other than the Tory backed need to use online booking apps, so that ticket offices can be closed. Also you should also perhaps remember why FailTrack was re-nationalised, remember Hatfield, 17 Oct 2000, Potters Bar 10 May 2002?

      Reply
      1. Peter Parsons
        June 10, 2024

        Also about the price of a private car park (Reading station car park is owned/operated by APCOA).

        Reply
        1. Lynn Atkinson
          June 11, 2024

          Private car parks pay business rates. That doubles their costs.
          In a country with a massive State sector, nothing is ‘private’ anymore, the State takes. Huge chunk whether you are in profit or not.

          Reply
          1. Cliff.. Wokingham.
            June 11, 2024

            Yes, like all gangsters, they want their piece of the action.

          2. jerry
            June 11, 2024

            @LA; Very true, but railway station car parks used to be part of BR Property Board, thus any business rates were circular money (anyway, wasn’t BR exempt), thus your point is somewhat moot.

      2. Donna
        June 11, 2024

        I was recently at my local railway station to buy a ticket because the website had crashed. In front of me was an elderly blind man, travelling alone. I had reason to make an online complaint to the railway company on his behalf for the “service” he had received. Perhaps you could tell me how an elderly blind man could buy his ticket online?

        Reply
    2. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2024

      The newer the trains the more uncomfortable the seats in my experience. If you get a taxi to the stations (or if someone wife etc. drives you this is usually 2 double journeys one way empty one with the passenger. Add these to the often indirect train journey means they rarely even save any CO2. A journey from Birmingham Airport to near Cambridge meant going via London and a taxi at the Cambridge end. Renting a car and driving would have halved the overall distance travelled. Plus given far more flexibility while in Cambridge. Despite all the road blocking they have done in Cambridge. They have even been planting large trees in the middle of the roads to block them off.

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        June 10, 2024

        Cars generally far cheaper, far more flexible, can store your luggage for you so you do not have to lug it round all the time and can take 5 or even 7. Plus you can call off on route to drop people off, shop, see the sights, change the itinerary, offer hitch hikers a lift…

        Reply
      2. Peter
        June 10, 2024

        Lifelogic,

        It’s a certainty you won’t be posting :-
        ‘Kamal Ahmed is surely right in today’s Telegraph’.

        Interesting to see what happens to sacked BBC folk.

        Reply
    3. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2024

      To reply:- Correct where is the logic in huge taxis for drivers and vast tax payer subsidies for train users? Why should I be forced to subsidised train users?

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        June 10, 2024

        Huge “Taxes” rather than Taxis!

        Reply
      2. jerry
        June 10, 2024

        @LL; “Why should I be forced to subsidised train users?”

        Why should others be forced to subsidies your personal or business tax breaks!

        Reply
        1. Mark
          June 11, 2024

          Taxes should not be so high as to need lots of complicated offsets. As Reagan pointed out

          Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

          Reply
          1. jerry
            June 11, 2024

            @Mark; Reagan was wrong, tax is made complicated because so many expect such offsets, some would still want them if their income or business taxes were only 1%; as your second sentence clearly shows, some people simply do not believe they should pay taxes, but still expect to live in a functioning and safe democracy that protects their ‘castle’.

          2. Mark
            June 11, 2024

            @ jerry

            You are wrong. Tax is made complicated so that the tax industry can exist, while the little people can’t afford the advice and devices to avoid it. There really is no need of complexity in a well functioning economy, and no economy functions well with a complicated tax system.

          3. Mickey Taking
            June 12, 2024

            Too many UK taxes appear to cost crazy sums to employ civil servants to collect them!
            REMOVE or SIMPLIFY !

          4. jerry
            June 13, 2024

            @Mark; My point was, we could have a flat tax of 1% but someone like Lifelogic will always demand a tax rebate or an exemption for Landlords, then someone else makes the case for house builders, cobblers, and so on. Thus the tax code becomes ever more complicated despite it being a flat tax! If we really wanted to make tax simple, remover vote seeking politicos from influencing tax policies…

            Also stop being so dismissive, those “little people” have far more influence than you think, hence why politicos trip over each other offering to lift such people ever further out of paying tax, from paying NI, or adjusting other taxes, such as Stamp Duty.

    4. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2024

      120 miles is a bit far for an electric bike I suppose @ circa 9 hours. A classic bike – Harley Davidson perhaps, very popular at your age it seems currently.

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        June 10, 2024

        Over 90% of travel in the UK is by road this despite the vast tax subsidy bias to rail and huge over taxation of cars. The average subsidy per rail journey is circa £7.51, more than the average fare of £6.12. So over 50% is paid for by tax payers. Circa £1400 per tax payer subsidies for rail. Even for people who never use a train. What is the real un-rigged market demand for trains? If they were not subsidised and taxed like cars. Fares would be about 3 times current levels. So perhaps £700+ London to Manchester return for one. You could buy car and take five for less and still have the car to keep.

        Reply
        1. Lifelogic
          June 10, 2024

          Might even be nearly £900 return in fact at peak times if taxes the same and no subsidy.

          Reply
    5. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2024

      So the EU mores slightly towards the right, yer the UK looks likely to move from the left wing Con-Socialists to the even harder left. The very last thing the UK needs.

      Reply
    6. glen cullen
      June 10, 2024

      I have the same anxieties with trains/rail as I do with EVs
      Both are very expensive, lack competition, have range anxiety, could be cancelled, buying tickets issues, planning journey issues, having to make back-up plans …just never knowing if you’re going to make it on time, and it doesn’t save the planet

      Reply
      1. Lifelogic
        June 10, 2024

        +1 does not even save CO2 not that doing that is remotely important.

        Reply
      2. jerry
        June 10, 2024

        @glen cullen; Except each individual form of transport, at least on internal routes, has all the other transport methods as competition. As our host freely admitted, he could have driven to Cardiff, but if he planned to do any work en-route, or perhaps eat, he would have had to employ a chauffeur or stop at a service station. Yes trains can be cancelled, but the M4 motorway could be blocked by an accident, our host trapped in the stationary traffic for hours, or the River Severn bridges closed.

        Diesel trains only work if there is fuel in the tank, very true, but the same is true of IC powered cars, whilst UK electric trains have infinite range, so were your argument about “range” come from one can only guess!

        Reply
        1. glen cullen
          June 10, 2024

          People don’t do work on the train, the play games, go on ebay and facebook

          Reply
          1. jerry
            June 11, 2024

            @glen cullen; A rather sweeping generalization, but OK, if our host wanted to play electronic games, go on ebay, check his social media, moderate this site…

    7. beresford
      June 10, 2024

      Reply to reply. Network Rail was formed after the failure of privatised Railtrack.

      Reply
    8. ChrisS
      June 10, 2024

      We need a business-friendly administration that makes it easy to travel about the country, park cheaply and in safely. While almost all the restrictions being put on travel and business are generated by Lib Dim, Green and Labour councils, the Conservatives could have done something about it but failed to act !

      The government could have stopped the hated ULEZ extension imposed by Khan with simple legislation but failed. Ditto 20mph and restricted zones could have been limited to around schools, even in Wales. Then we have the billions wasted on unused cycle lanes funded by – yes, central government ! Again, the Conservatives failed to act.
      One can only assume that those in power listen too much to their left wing, anti-road Civil Servants and even agree with them. They certainly haven’t questioned them sufficiently !

      We are never going to get a government that responds to what voters really want until ministers get to grips with the Civil Service. To start, ministers need to carry out a survey of Home Office officials on their attitude to inward migration and another in the Department of Transport on their attitude towards cars and cycling. These would yield interesting results. A well-overdue clearout could then be arranged.

      Reply
    9. Original Richard
      June 11, 2024

      Peter : “Broken Britain.”

      There isn’t an organisation or a problem which could not be improved by the removal of the woke aka fifth column Communists from positions of influence and power.

      Reply
  2. formula57
    June 10, 2024

    Your pioneering spirit is commendable of course but it sounds a grim and expensive experience.

    Reply
  3. agricola
    June 10, 2024

    I K Brunel would I suspect, not be impressed with what they have done to his railway. I too have reason to visit Cardiff around three times a year to see my dentist. The railway has never, in thirty years, been considered as a means of getting there. An hour and a half by car with a pleasant diversion to a restaurant on the way back makes more sense. I would add that Cardiff itself has always been a pleasant experience.

    You make no mention of the cost of your experience. I am willing to guess it would have been cheaper to fly to Alicante and back, and possibly quicker.

    A possible solution, radical as ever. From the MOT downwards clear out the whole management structure responsible for inflicting the current railway experience upon us. Invite whoever runs the japanese Shinkansen to take over our railway system, and see it spring to life as a customer oriented enjoyable experience in getting from A to B , always on time, plus or minus 10 seconds. Travel in comfort in a pre-booked seat that arrives at the designated entry point on the platform for you to step aboard. The hostess trolley service provides everything you might need in transit.

    For those of us who have travelled the civilised world comes the recognition of what purgatory the public services of the UK inflict upon their customers. Welcome to the third world experience that is UK 2024.

    Reply
  4. DOM
    June 10, 2024

    Exercise the cerebellum and use a car.

    I suspect our fine host spent more energy (resources) going by train to Cardiff than he would have done if he’d have travelled by car.

    Keep it simple

    Deviating away from John’s Steve Martin impersonation in Planes, Trains and Automobiles for a moment. Nice to see Macron in total panic mode. These woke slime squirming is an uplifting sight. While common sense is taking hold across Europe the British appear to have caught the parasite Socialist disease. They’ll pay the price for such mind-numbing naivety

    RIP Dr Mosley

    Reply
  5. Sakara Gold
    June 10, 2024

    Well done to Sir John for deciding to let the train take the strain for the journey to Cardiff.

    The roads are a nightmare at the moment, many have massive potholes with “Road Closed” signs proliferating everywhere. Especially rural routes. Even the M25, which is suffering rolling weekend closures as a defective bridge is replaced

    Reply
    1. formula57
      June 10, 2024

      or perhaps better done to have Zoomed instead!

      Reply
    2. glen cullen
      June 10, 2024

      …..and you have to plan and fund your journey due to tory fines, polls, charges, ulez and ltn’s

      Reply
  6. Sir Joe Soap
    June 10, 2024

    Nothing works anymore.
    You’d have been caught on some M4 50mph trick cameras, had issues with parking being well away from your venue, car park full or payment machines not working.
    Conservatives have acted as the gateway for the professionals at conspiring to block peoples’ lives. We deserve better.

    Reply
  7. Old Albion
    June 10, 2024

    Travelling by train is an expensive nightmare. Incredibly it all worked better (not perfectly) when we had British rail.
    In the face of that, Greenies, Wokies and Tories are doing their best to destroy car ownership.

    Reply
  8. Mark B
    June 10, 2024

    Good morning.

    This is the problem, the car is, in most cases, the best mode of transport.

    Yesterday I decided to go for an early morning drive through the Surrey hills.

    I planned my journey through Google Maps and sent it to my phone. The initial part of the journey, which comenced at 5:30am, took me to the nearest petrol station on route and then through lovely English countryside. A real pleasure on such a sunny morning.

    The final leg of my journey was a mistake. M3 Motorway then on to the A3. Thinking that traffic might not be as bad and a quick way of getting back leaving me the rest of the morning. Welll it did not turn out that way as traffic was terrible.

    If I had stayed to the minor roads, or just doubled back on myself all would have been well.

    I guess we all make mistakes and any journey, no matter what form of transport, needs careful planning.

    This morning I rode to work on a bike. I am typing this having just got dry and changed.

    Life eh !

    Reply
  9. Roy Grainger
    June 10, 2024

    Of course those of us old enough know that when Labour entirely nationalise the railways including the operating companies things will simply get worse because they’ll have to farm out running it to some sort of arms-length public body which will only be able to recruit second-rate managers with no economic incentive at all to improve the customer experience. It will be amusing to hear the excuses from Labour once the “we inherited the problems from the Conservatives” excuses have run out. Of course train strikes will also continue as normal which may come as a surprise to Labour voters. Younger people than me never experienced the problems of nationalised rail – and other sectors such as energy – and don’t believe us when we tell them what it was like so a period of practical education for them is overdue.

    Reply
  10. Hat man
    June 10, 2024

    Network Rail says its management is ‘responsible to the Secretary of State for Transport’. The current SoS (in office only for a year and a half) agrees with you, Sir John. Last year Mark Harper called our railways ‘not fit for purpose’ and ‘financially unsustainable’. But as we know it’s the civil servants who really run the show, and I was interested to read this interview with the Permanent Secretary at the Dept for Transport: https://www.fda.org.uk/home/Newsandmedia/Features/bernadette-kelly-department-for-transport-permanent-secretary-interview.aspx
    It’s all about Brexit, social mobility, and big projects, especially Crossrail. No awareness of the problems faced by rail transport users, such as those you experienced recently. As long as civil servants have their minds fixed on other priorities, I don’t see the public interest in better rail travel being well served.

    Reply
  11. Narrow Shoulders
    June 10, 2024

    If one has a car, then train travel is not an attractive option.

    I like train travel but it is less convenient and more expensive than door to door by car with your luggage.

    Reply
  12. BOF
    June 10, 2024

    Just imagine, if the railway line was a road for the use of HGV’s and coaches. All privately run without huge subsidies and best of all, no quango’s or unions.

    Your journey Sir John may have been a pleasant day out.

    Reply
    1. Peter Wood
      June 10, 2024

      Imagine also if the iron lines were removed and replaced with a special dual carriageway — for cars only! Speed limit – 100mph. Fewer on/off junctions and plenty of parking in the centre of towns.
      How much would that save?

      Reply
  13. Nigl
    June 10, 2024

    Train controllers in Westminster, like so much else, what do they know. London on SWT always very efficient, I now get plug in plus wifi, apart from that, unless drink is being taken, the car it is, door to door, no car parking charges, cancellations, hanging around.

    Reply
  14. davews
    June 10, 2024

    You could have avoided the Reading parking charge by using the train from Wokingham (or maybe Winnersh). The so called Advanced fares may be cheap but are inflexible and for that reason I never use them. Do you have a rail card? And although I have seem many comments about the hard seats on the new GWR trains I do not find them that bad myself. I use the trains a lot, but rarely GWR, and find in general they are pretty reliable. Now having no car, my choice, they are a good alternative. But of course when you already hate trains the tone of today’s posting is obvious.

    Reply Wokingham station is a four mile walk from my house. I do not hate trains. I like comfortable ones that run on time and go places I want to go.

    Reply
    1. Peter Parsons
      June 10, 2024

      Wokingham station has a car park and its daily prices are much cheaper than at Reading.

      Reply
    2. Peter Wood
      June 10, 2024

      Reply to Reply.
      Sir J. Do you have the basic financial data for the whole network? Total pax sales, total subsidy, net loss to tax payer, total profit/loss for the operators, for a non covid year? Lets get a feel if keeping a railway is worth the cost.

      Reply
  15. Bryan Harris
    June 10, 2024

    All the issues mentioned are down to a lack of management.

    It seems to be one the malaise hitting the UK – things go wrong and nobody can be bothered to look at the problems because it would require some thinkingness to be applied….and it seems that managing problems is out of style.

    Not just the trains, but almost every problem we are facing in the UK is down to a lack of willing management to get to grips with problems. It’s far worse than ‘head in sand’ – we are talking about wantonly ignoring of duty.
    From alleged water shortages to a lack of commodities on supermarket shelves, there are solutions not being employed.

    What we lack here is the ability to engage in creating solutions to the problems created, and this has evolved from the very top.

    Reply
  16. Keith Collyer
    June 10, 2024

    Amazing how bad the privatized rail system is, isn’t it?

    Reply
    1. glen cullen
      June 10, 2024

      Its amazing how bad Sunak is …….who called an early election ?

      Reply
    2. Mark
      June 11, 2024

      All the substantive bits are nationalised (Network Rail, GBR/ROSCOs) and the rest depends on heavy subsidy and regulation. Not what I would call privatised any more.

      Reply
  17. Mike Wilson
    June 10, 2024

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you privatised the railways and you’ve been in power for 32 of the last 45 years. None of us can do anything about it – except vote in general elections and get either a Tory or Labour government. It’s YOUR fault.

    Reply
    1. Mark
      June 11, 2024

      Actually the Tories should be blamed for renationalisation. They formally completed the renationalisation if Network Rail, started by Byers under Labour. Support for ROSCOs that provide the rolling stock has seen them reclassified as public corporations with the government underwriting their debt. Great British Railways is the nationalised entity that they wanted to establish to own both, and already has a transition bureaucracy based in Derby. The level of subsidy to the operating companies is so high that they cannot be regarded as private business: they are effectively managed by the ORR.

      Reply
  18. jerry
    June 10, 2024

    Sir John, if you went by “GWR” you also inflicted time travel on yourself; you actually traveled using a private Train Operating Company called FirstGroup Plc (originally a bus operator), but I suspect you know that!

    I think you mean those nice old HST InterCity 125s, a very mice train, designed and built by the State owned British Rail, in their own workshops.

    Back in BR days & before, other for a few select premium services such as Pullman and Sleeper, you simply turned up, bought a ticket, ‘shewed’ your ticket to a usually helpful inspector or porter, then hopped on the next train going in generally the correct direction, or a service of your choice. Most trains used to run to time despite urban myths. It was also not unknown, on busy days, for extra “relief” trains to run, spare stock and train crews held in reserve, not sold off or sent home.

    We reap what govts sow…
    Whatever did happened to the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail 2021 Great British Railways, will it be dusted off for the Manifesto I wonder?

    Reply
    1. Martin in Bristol
      June 10, 2024

      Jerry
      Are you really arguing that because they are private companies they gave a poor service?
      I think you have dewey eyes in your memories of past decades of train travel under British Rail.
      I recall endless strikes, overcrowded expensive trains and engineering and disruptions caused by engineering overruns.

      Reply
      1. jerry
        June 10, 2024

        @MiB; Did you actually bother to read our hosts article, I was replying to his complaint about poor service from a TOC.

        “I recall endless strikes, overcrowded expensive trains and engineering and disruptions caused by engineering overruns.”

        I also remember all that, from just last year, duh!
        I also suspect if you were to ask, most people would far prefer engineering/inspection overruns to shoddy workmanship, as was happening with FailTrack, as I said (further up), remember Hatfield, remember Potter Bar.

        Reply
        1. Martin in Bristol
          June 11, 2024

          It would be more useful if you calmed down with your replies Jerry
          Try and imagine you are actually talking to people face to face.

          Reply
          1. jerry
            June 11, 2024

            Take your own advice “Martin”!

          2. Martin in Bristol
            June 11, 2024

            I’m not the one on here twenty times a day with contrary posts shouting “duh” and labelling those you disagree with as hard right.
            eh Jerry?

          3. Sam
            June 11, 2024

            You are proving Martin’s comments Jerry.

        2. Mark
          June 11, 2024

          There were many railcrashes with fatalities in the British Rail era. I particularly remember Hither Green, which affected a journey I was taking, and Clapham, which killed my first boss after University, and had me concerned for another colleague who didn’t make it into work that day.

          Reply
    2. glen cullen
      June 10, 2024

      ….are we still fully funding HS2 ?

      Reply
    3. Mark
      June 11, 2024

      It’s just awaiting formal enabling legislation, but it’s largely in place already.

      https://gbrtt.co.uk/

      Reply
      1. glen cullen
        June 11, 2024

        Just another taxpayer funded quango

        Reply
  19. Iago
    June 10, 2024

    A world-historical societal transformation is taking place before our very eyes, and yet few have taken notice. Britain, the erstwhile leader of the Western world and the foundation and source of English-speaking civilization, is in its last days as a free society, and will soon become an Islamic state.
    Discuss.

    Reply
  20. Ian wragg
    June 10, 2024

    Why would the government care. They want us to stop travelling by all means possible
    Making the experience uncomfortable achieves this objective.
    It’s all part of the plan.k

    Reply
  21. Berkshire Alan
    June 10, 2024

    Have to say I was completely unaware you had to book a fixed time train in advance, until last year when I used the service for the first time in years, to go into London on my own for personal business.
    I was aware that cheap rates only started after a certain time.
    So train journeys are not as flexible as they used to be many years ago, when you simply booked a ticket and just got on and off, and caught a return at will.
    Yet another service that has got too expensive, and too complicated for its own good, and is poor value for money when there is more than one person travelling.
    Do they really call this progress ?

    Reply
  22. Bloke
    June 10, 2024

    Running on time should be a standard basic requirement. It is not a bonus.

    Reply
  23. MFD
    June 10, 2024

    And then Sir John , you wonder why people are moving to Reform UK!
    They have pledged to rid our country of all the evil ways of LiblabCON and we have nothing to loose by trying them!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Atkinson
      June 10, 2024

      Yes one Reforn Candidate praising the little Herr today and wondering why we did. It just accommodate him – that blasted Churchill seems to have been the fly in the ointment.
      Presumable the trains would be running on time ….
      Oh – just in passing I see the Germany is now defined as a ‘developing nation’ due to the massive deindustrialisation caused by cutting off cheap energy – well most energy cheap or not. As the Polish Foreign Minister, now poised to become the EUs top diplomat tweeted ‘thanks USA’ (for blowing up Nordstream)

      Reply
  24. iain gill
    June 10, 2024

    some of the open access train companies have no spare train drivers at all. which means as soon as a driver calls in sick trains are cancelled. and if a driver is sick for many weeks there are cancellations for weeks. all the train companies should be forced to have standby drivers available to cover, at least some level of, sickness.

    Reply
  25. Nigl
    June 10, 2024

    Tory policy on railways vacillating for years, indecisive, looking both ways etc a metaphor for their wider governance. Wasn’t some big authority set up with the usual spin that has gone nowhere?

    They have no idea what shape they should be except push back against labour so called nationalisation, hardly different to theirs?.

    The track is nationalised, the Tories have no qualms in taking over failing franchises and bung the industry £12 billion in subsidy. Is that almost nationalisation by any other name?

    What we are getting us the future albeit franchises will not be renewed, quite how a labour government will pay an ex franchise for its services or pay off shareholders remains to be seen.

    Your government Sir JR has had over a decade and the financial leverage to have pushed through the changes that you identify and the public have called out for.

    ‘Physician heal thyself’ whoops too late, again!’

    Reply
    1. iain gill
      June 10, 2024

      Re “policy on railways vacillating for years, indecisive” worse than that, the legal cases resulting from the way Virgin trains were treated, in their bid for the East Coast franchise etc, led to such a big shock in the senior layers of the civil service that ALL public sector procurement is over endowed with lawyers there primarily to prevent similar court cases. Certainly I have seen MOD procurements flooded with lawyers with this in mind.

      Lots of effort which is a complete waste of national resources.

      Reply
  26. Richard1
    June 10, 2024

    Here’s the heading of an article by Mr Cleverly in today’s telegraph: ‘when it comes to fighting crime, Starmer is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’ I guess he means a sheep in wolf’s clothing – but he repeats the phrase in the body of the article so the error is cleverly’s not the telegraph’s. This should rule him out of the leadership contest at least.

    Presumably this also indicates no proper coordination at the centre of what the Conservative party’s main spokesmen and women are saying. Sunak needs to get a grip very rapidly.

    Reply
  27. Everhopeful
    June 10, 2024

    Well…there! You see. Now you know exactly what it’s like! ( Well you probably always did?)
    Husband’s recent trips to West Country and even Suffolk. Nightmares.
    Never mind whether privatised or nationalised, train journeys were not as terrible as that.
    I definitely know because I am the moaniest person on the planet and before they did away with slam doors and put in electric loos I used trains extensively with not the tiniest qualm.
    The nightmare will increase as they dispense with more and more staff.
    It’s the madness that terrifies me so.

    Reply
    1. Everhopeful
      June 10, 2024

      Actually the railmen probably don’t want the seats to be comfortable.
      They say it is down to fire regulations…remember all those conflagrations on trains which disrupted the sober English city gents on their way to the City?
      The trains are cut price with luxury priced tickets. Smaller, meaner and thinner.
      All very planet-saving.
      No chance of a nap!

      Reply
  28. John Downes
    June 10, 2024

    The ‘Great Western Railway’ ceased to exist when it was incorporated into British Railways on nationalisation in 1948.
    Everything since then is ersatz, and especially the present concession holders who are traducing a well-regarded trading style.

    Reply
  29. Lifelogic
    June 10, 2024

    White men have least chance of getting on BBC trainee scheme
    Applicants coming from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were two and a half times more likely to be accepted for the training. Far more females too. In the Telegraph.

    If you are a white male, atheist, a climate realist, against open door immigration, not Labor voting and have a grasp of logic & science your chance is zero – unless perhaps you wear a wig and a dress and hide all your political views.

    Reply
    1. Lifelogic
      June 10, 2024

      So for this BBC BBC recruitment 71% were ethnic minority and far more females than males too. So a white male (about 40% of the population) have compete for about 10% of the places and ethnic minority females (about 9% of the population) compete for about 45% of the places. So they have about 20 times better odds than white men. Perhaps all refused white males should bring race and sex discrimination cases. I assume this blatant discrimination still continues once employed there too.

      Reply
  30. Lifelogic
    June 10, 2024

    Womens’ chances of getting onto the BBC training scheme were 1.6 times higher than their male counterparts. This will further push the vast anti-science BBC bias as subjects such as further maths, physics, engineering, computer programming… are circa 80% male.

    Reply
  31. Nigel Hartley
    June 10, 2024

    I often travel from Swansea to London and back. The service is very unreliable. Since I plan for the delay and work on the train I can accommodate the delays. The good thing is I often get the fare refunded because it is so late!
    Flexible train tickets don’t cost much more than specific trains. Booking standard and bidding for first class on Seat Frog is a good option.
    The driving alternative isn’t good because Welsh Labour have refused to upgrade the M4 so that almost every day there is a crash and delays.
    Putting it all together I can’t see south Wales as an attractive place to invest due to the poor access.

    Reply
  32. William Long
    June 10, 2024

    You are not the only one who is amazed at the discomfort of the seats in the new GWR trains; the old 125 ones were a good deal more comfortable even at about 40 years old, and they had room for proper catering. I should be interested to know who was the bright spark who decided on units of five carriages, so you cannot get from one end to the other of a ten carriage train, so a proper bar/buffet becomes impractical. A good example of what happens when you employ ‘Experts’

    Reply
  33. Original Richard
    June 10, 2024

    I trust the railways are planning how they will cope with chaotically intermittent supplies of electricity which will inevitably arise if Parliament does not appeal the CCA and we continue along the CCC’s path to Net Zero.

    And I hope that future train carriages will have windows which can open manually from the inside. Needed for sure as the UN Sec Gen has already advised us that the “the era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived.”

    Reply
  34. J+M
    June 10, 2024

    The new trains are Azumas. They also run on the East Coast Mainline. The seats are instruments of torture. The old 225s had much more roomy and comfortable seats. Apparently the Azuma seats were chosen by a committee for no other reason than that they met EU regulations. No one tested them or sat in them for a prolonged period of time. The Azumas are lighter trains, which means that they can be run closer together. However, the downside is that every bump and deviation in the permanent way is transmitted to those on board the train. Another huge problem with the Azumas is that they have little space for large luggage; it appears to have been assumed that everyone has aeroplane locker sized suitcases. The bike storage space was designed by someone who has never heard of deep section wheels.

    Reply
  35. glen cullen
    June 10, 2024

    But it all part of the EU/Tory integrated transport strategy, remember 15 minute cities are the way ahead
    I see the peoples push back against woke, green and immigration has started across europe

    Reply
  36. Glenn Vaughan
    June 10, 2024

    Your day could have been worse John. Imagine being stuck in the Senedd for a couple of hours listening to a bunch of ignorant parasites, though I doubt that you would have been paid £200.000 for that dubious privilege.

    Reply
    1. Glenn Vaughan
      June 10, 2024

      That’s £200k of course.

      Reply
  37. Ian B
    June 10, 2024

    Sir John
    Buy foreign because it is cheap, is the extra cost we all pay – talking rolling stock here.
    Taxi advanced payments, (as with all these systems) are not about efficiency or convenience, its about collecting data of you and those in your contact list, then sell it. The need to enslave and farm. You will never know who received your data, its abroad masked in many tiers of obscurity.
    Welcome to the brave new World of Conservative Centralised Government. Like all Socialist governments it is not about ‘You’ it is about ‘Them’. Its these attitudes along with many others out of the play-book of the ‘left’ why so many of us don’t recognize this crowd as ‘Conservative’

    Reply
  38. Christine
    June 10, 2024

    “I could have been better off driving”

    Not necessarily. A 3.5-hour journey took us 5.5 hours last week.

    Maybe you should have utilised the buses. Local fares are only £2 during the day and £1 during the evening at the moment – a bargain.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Atkinson
      June 11, 2024

      How do ‘local fares’ get you from Reading to Cardiff? 10,000 ‘changes’ and 4 days?

      Reply
  39. Chris S
    June 10, 2024

    A perfect example of a journey which in theory should would be easy using the train, but in reality, a car would make it so much easier. You were lucky that you were only going to a single place in Cardiff. Had you more than one destination, the train would have made it very difficult.

    A quick check showed me that Wokingham to Cardiff is 118 miles, so a journey of 236 miles would be beyond the safe, guaranteed, range of almost all EVs, even in summer, leaving no margin for power-zapping traffic delays, detours, or accidents. So, the car would to be recharged at some point. In the brave new world of the EV, that would need to be planned in advance : Does the destination have charging facilities, how many, are they in working order ?, and at what cost? If the purpose of the journey was to attend a function lasting some hours, you would not be able to leave the car on the charging point and would have to leave the venue in order to move it, or face a fine.

    This is the kind of issue that will face almost everybody with an EV and is why, apart from heavily subsidised business drivers, most of us are looking to stay with IC engined cars. My own Audi A7 could make 5 one way trips of 118 miles and still have enough diesel to get most of the way back again before taking just 3 minutes to refuel !

    Reply
  40. majorfrustration
    June 10, 2024

    The trouble is that nobody in authority really cares – take it or leave. The solution is always more money!

    Reply
    1. Berkshire Alan
      June 10, 2024

      Got it in One.

      Reply
  41. James Morley
    June 10, 2024

    I agree, and you will find plenty of high speed charge points on the M4 too.

    Reply
  42. Ian B
    June 10, 2024

    Sir John
    A little off topic. Labours concept of Taxing ‘Public/Private’ Schools if it is to have some rationality and purpose shouldn’t they also include University Fees? Otherwise, that is pure victimization.
    Or is it the Socialist ‘levelling-down’ vindictiveness?
    Tax has become this elections ‘playground’ all participants are treating tax as their right to take and spend before any other consideration. As individuals if we want to buy things, play to our aspirations, have a treat, we either cut our budget, our spending or find other ways to earn more. That concept is beyond our Political Class.
    Tax has become as with all Socialists, the Uni-Party, their play thing to address their egos and personal self-gratification. It is no longer the necessary driver of infrastructure that keeps the wheels turning to enable us ‘all’ to flourish.
    The more the people are permitted to spend their own money, fund things, education, health, pensions, insurance, the less there is for Government to get involved in and the richer society becomes. In other words, release Society from the clutches of pure left-wing Socialism, practised by the incumbent Conservative Government, anticipated to come from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It is not their Country it is ours; it is not their money it is ours.

    Reply
    1. Ian B
      June 10, 2024

      This has been promised before and not acted on after 14 years of this version of a ConSocialist Government – how about really removing all the ‘deadwood’ that feeds of the taxpayer. Just because you cant find a real job and are a friend of a friend shouldn’t mean you get to feed off the Taxpayer

      Reply
    2. Narrow Shoulders
      June 10, 2024

      Education is either exempt or it isn’t so not just university fees but tutors, nurseries and vocational training

      Reply
  43. Everhopeful
    June 10, 2024

    I see the “slowly, slowly catchee monkey” way they are achieving 15 minute ghettos.
    Gradually…with lots of diversions ( like strikes and cancellations, road closures and diversions etc etc) along the way. Travel of any sort will become impossible.
    Labour will go full steam ahead with the agenda.
    What a prospect.

    Reply
    1. Everhopeful
      June 10, 2024

      And I daresay that the “fire safe” seats are a spiteful, mean, cruel disincentive to travel.

      Reply
  44. Paula
    June 10, 2024

    Even a one carriage train will have more seats than you’re going to get.

    Reply
  45. Lifelogic
    June 10, 2024

    Amber Rudd attacks Nigel Farage saying it is all about delivery (he was not even an MP Amber). Well the Tories have been in power so what have they delivered Amber. Anything positive at all.

    Negatives
    Wrecked economy, botched Brexit, long net harm lockdowns, net harm Covid Vaccines, immigration totally out of control both legal and illegal, high crime rates and do nothing police, woke diversity lunacy, highest taxes for 70 years, dire and still declining public services, vast government wast, high inflation, an insane energy policy, net zero, wars on motorists, landlords and the self employed…and now 5,10 or 15 years plus of even worse Labour – thanks very Cameron, May, Boris, Sunak.

    Positives
    err well? Opt out organ donation perhaps?

    Reply
    1. Narrow Shoulders
      June 10, 2024

      Opt out organ donation is the very definition of authoritarianism

      Reply
      1. Lynn Atkinson
        June 11, 2024

        +1 because it is assumed you have opted in!
        Did you see a senior Japanese Government Official has apologised for the CV19 vaccines? He apologised to the unvaccinated (that means people who had no shot not people who did not have the full complement), but he should have apologised to the vaccinated.

        Reply
  46. Vivian Evans
    June 10, 2024

    Dear Sir John – as Cardiffian I can only commiserate. Those seats together with the pricing finally stopped me from going to London, and that was in 2018. Yes, it’s that long since those seats were installed on the GWR mainline from Cardiff to London.
    In comparison, Japanese Railways were privatised in 1987. After the covid years, JR made a profit of over 99bn Yen. As a most enjoyable perusal of videos of rail journeys in Japan shows, their trains are incredible, their Shinkansen is breathtakingly fast, they’re cheap, with premium class seats similar to posh airplane seats – and everything, from trains to stations to station concourses is spanking clean.
    We really ought to be ashamed of the state of our railways.

    Reply
  47. RichardP
    June 10, 2024

    We used to travel by bus and train quite often but the masking requirement during Covid made both no-go areas for us. We haven’t used a bus or train since.
    For a while we went by car to our nearest large town but parking costs and restrictions made the experience irritating so we haven’t been there for over four years now. It seems we aren’t the only ones avoiding the town because many of the shops have now closed and the bus service has been significantly reduced.
    As for the trains, it would be difficult to pick a time when they aren’t on strike and, with the closure of the ticket office, I have no idea of how you can buy a ticket or interest in finding out!

    Reply
  48. IanT
    June 10, 2024

    Well I finally found out who would like to be your replacement Sir John (Google “Who Can I Vote For”). There are five candidates listed there. I have no intention of voting Labour, Lib Dem or Green, so will simply ignore them here.

    I first looked at Lucy Denery, the Conservative candidate. Her statement is in the third person (did someone else write it I wondered?) and it informs us that she is well educated and has held senior posts in the City. That’s fair enough but what does she actually believe in? Well all I know after reading her short statement is that “She is focused on investing in a vibrant local economy, supporting our local services and protecting our green spaces”. That’s it – a political type of ‘Motherhood and Apple Pie’ Frankly, this could just have easily been written by Clive Jones (the Lib Dem)? Not a mention of her well regarded predecessor either…again I wondered why not?

    As for Reform? Well Colin Wright seems reasonably local, having lived in Crowthorne/Sandhurst since 1979 and is married to a Wokingham born lady, with his children now living in Frimley. What does he belieive in? Well he povides a lot more detail (although his wife should have proof read it for him)… “I guess, like many prospective Reform UK voters we have been left politically homeless by the two major parties. Many of us would have been Conservatives, who have appeared to have abandoned any genuine Conservative policies” and “The aftermath of the 2016 referendum was dismal, the first in my adult life to see the politicians try to overturn at every opportunity saddened me that voters were treated with such disdain, whatever anyone’s thoughts of the result, democracy has to be put first” He even has the good sense to state that “In John Redwood the area does have a true Conservative MP, one that looks very isolated in the current party” So, I have a much better understanding of where Mr Wright is coming from (unlike Ms Demery..)

    I’ve been perfectly undecided since you stepped down Sir John. I don’t want Starmer but nor do I want another ‘pretend’ Conservative government that takes my vote for granted and doesn’t actually deliver what they promise. So on reading these two ‘statements’ which one do you think rang the loudest bells with me?

    Reply
    1. Ian B
      June 10, 2024

      @IanT – it is no longer about beliefs, if you can demonstrate loyalty to your aspiring next President the job is yours. CCHQ no longer wants those that will serve their chosen community, its electorate or Country. For that matter they have a hatred of Conservatives.
      Beliefs can no longer be a factor when the 2 plus (+1 minor) are all focused on how to tax and tax more to force a leaders personal needs on Society. The needs of the Country, the electorate, just don’t figure they are just the minions, the slaves that have the money taken from them with no reward just shovelling it down the drain. The Country is no longer to be allowed the freedom to grow, achieve or prosper – welcome to the extreme World of Socialism, all bigotry and waste being the only thing these Presidential would-be can comprehend.

      Reply
    2. Berkshire Alan
      June 10, 2024

      Ian T
      Like you I was also Redwoodian, and always voted for the candidate (JR) who most represented my views, the penalty paid was I also voted Conservative, now JR has chosen to go, I am afraid the Conservative Party holds absolutely nothing for me any more, far too Socialist thinking, wanting far too much control over peoples lives, sky high taxes, and far too many mistakes over the last 14 years under all Prime Ministers, who do not seem to have a clue about Human Nature, most recently shown up by the decision taken by our Prime Minister to leave the D Day celebrations, to simply film an interview, which could have been completed at any time.
      In my view the only way the Conservative Party may change and go back to its grass roots, is if all the newer One Nation lovey dovey clowns are voted out completely.
      I do not like any of the other main Socialist type Parties so that leaves just one left.
      I simply cannot vote for the new candidate who in my mind simply just wants to be an MP, anybodies MP !

      Reply
  49. Lifelogic
    June 10, 2024

    A few more Tory negatives HS2, PPE procurement vast crony capitalism, Sunak’s “unequivocally safe vaccines” lie, IHT £1m threshold ratting, vast government waste, a dire NHS that kills thousands with negligence and delays, the huge numbers of Midazolam “treatments”…

    Reply
    1. paul cuthbertson
      June 10, 2024

      LL – I mentioned Midazolam in a comment some time ago and it was not published?????

      Reply
  50. George Sheard
    June 10, 2024

    Hi sir John
    That’s modern day Britain, poor service across the board,
    Buses, trains , Roads , Airport, power comanies, internet/Phone,
    And local councils they take our money for services and they fail to deliver
    we should be able to claim our money back,
    All giving us really bad customer services
    We have to press option after options on the phone with all businesses. Sometimes there are no phone numbers to call only online. Which is not good for some.
    We have foreign companies running the countries businesses.
    Why can’t we have British run businesses
    Or are we just not clever enough,
    maybe our education system is not good enough . Thank you John

    Reply
    1. paul cuthbertson
      June 10, 2024

      GS – All part of the globalist plan. The PEOPLE are irrelevant. Unfornately the public are fickle and will vote these totally useless individuals back in office regardless of party.
      Until our whole system of government is changed NOTHING will happen.

      Reply
  51. Original Richard
    June 10, 2024

    I hope the railways will have implemented driverless trains before all organisations are forced by law for DEI to apply to everything they do.

    Reply
    1. glen cullen
      June 10, 2024

      Driverless trains are as ‘diverse’ and ‘net-zero’ as it gets ….now they just need a way to reduce the number of passengers

      Reply
  52. ChrisS
    June 10, 2024

    Just as younger voters, who have never had to endure a Labour Government, are about to vote in Starmer and Ginge, the EU is making a rapid turn to the right. VdL’s net zero strategy is certain to be wound back, giving the Continent a chance to keep costs down and the lights on. No such luck for the UK !

    Until Starmer is told by his officials that clean energy by 2030 is impossible, we will see billions wasted and bills rise dramatically. Milliband E is not going to listen, so Starmer will have to pull rank and sack him, if he has the guts to do so !

    Reply
    1. Original Richard
      June 10, 2024

      ChrisS : “Just as younger voters, who have never had to endure a Labour Government, are about to vote in Starmer and Ginge, the EU is making a rapid turn to the right…..”

      Normally, such as was the case for Blair & Brown, Labour wins a GE after the Conservatives have improved the economy and the finances with small c conservative policies defined as “austerity” by the Left. However, this time, the Conservatives, as a result of their own shift to the Left, will not be leaving the country in good financial shape and therefore Starmer will find he has no room for manoeuvre (profligate money spending) that the Left normally enjoy following a Conservative administration and consequently there may be trouble ahead as the Nat King Cole song goes.

      Reply
  53. forthurst
    June 10, 2024

    Separating train from track was one of the stupidest things the Tories did, compounding it by sell off all the track and train maintenance separately with manufacturing taken over by foreign companies. Professional railwaymen left the industry and were replaced by bus company managers. British Rail was starved of investment capital and was subsequently replaced by a badly run money pit in the private sector. Is there a continental railway system as badly run? What about a health system?

    Reply I opposed track and train separation . It was an EU requirement.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Atkinson
      June 11, 2024

      Yes. It was an EU requirement because their tracks cross several countries. So that was applied to Britain and it was and is a disaster and ALL continental railway systems are run in the same way.
      Most of the really stupid things done in Britain were done because we were compelled to do them from outside bodies – that’s why Sovereignty is the primary issue.
      So don’t vote Lib Dem under any circumstances whatsoever in the forthcoming election.

      Reply
    2. Mark
      June 11, 2024

      If you want an element of competition then the train operating companies need a stake in the track and stations so they can direct investment to service their customers and ensure safety. Competition might also discourage the procurement of rolling stock with uncomfortable seats.

      Reply
  54. glen cullen
    June 10, 2024

    BBC 1 Panorama 8pm tonight ….a left-wing interviewer, interviewing a left-winger

    Reply
  55. Peter Gardner
    June 11, 2024

    Although Sir John may not be a regular traveller by train the business model of rail in the UK is founded on the captive passengers who have no choice in their daily commute. Why should te rain companies fiddle about satisfying fringe customers. Marketing managers know very well the costs of satisfying customers and it would not pay to address the points Sir John raises unless these points are also of concern to their captive customers.

    Reply

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