Too hot to stop


          We have all been told not to drive to London. Anyone with tickets to Olympic events is told to take the train. You would have thought the railway industry would welcome this huge opportunity to show what it can do. What a chance to woo us to the trains.

          Instead the mainline from East Anglia decided not to stop some trains at Stratford as it was too hot yesterday.Various  tube lines have experienced  signal problems in recent days, delaying services. People who attended the rehearsal for the Opening Ceremony report long delays in getting onto the tube and other difficulties in getting home. To cap it all some in the RMT Union think this a good time to work to rule!


  1. Sue
    July 25, 2012

    When this government insists on upgrading a service hardly anyone uses from London to Birmingham, it has really lost the plot. There are obviously areas that require upgrading before kowtowing to your Masters in Brussels.

    1. Derek Monnery
      July 25, 2012

      There has been so much ill informed comment about HS2 that the reality of the situation is lost. HS2 is needed because the West Coast main line is full. With increasing demand for rail passenger trains running at 5% a year and a strong impetus to transfer freight to rail (West Coast line is a major freight artery), extra capacity has to be built. It is much cheaper to build a new line than to improve an existing one. I know that because costing construction work is my profession.
      Most other countries in the world are building high speed lines, so it makes sense to build HS2 as a high speed line rather than a standard one.

      1. Brian Tomkinson
        July 25, 2012

        What is the difference in the total cost between a standard speed line and a high speed? What is the comparative cost/benefit analysis?
        You say that most other countries are building high speed lines but most other countries are covering much greater distances where the benefit of high speed can be realised.

        1. Derek Monnery
          July 26, 2012

          This is only the first phase of a line that must run ultimately to Scotland. I agree that phase 1 would not necessarily justify high speed, but we are talking about a line that will be 300 miles long.

      2. Jerry
        July 25, 2012

        Derek, indeed there is much miss-information about the need for HS2, mostly from the pro HS2 lobby! Even your good-self admitted that the issue is not about saving ~ 1,000 odd seconds off a passengers journey time but for the need to have more space for low-speed (relatively speaking) freight train services, thus it would make far more sense to rebuild/re-open the old Great Central railway line, which was closed in the 1960s, with the added benefit (as I understand it) that much of the original line was built to a wider/higher loading gauge that most of the UK’s railways were built to.

        Also, sorry to say, but HS2 (certainly as planned…) is and will always be a -political- vanity project that the UK doesn’t need nor can afford – even if the money is available there are better transport projects that the money could be spent on.

        1. outsider
          July 25, 2012

          Sadly true Jerry. I wonder how much of the West Coast line freight customers want to load/unload at Euston Station in Central London. Much of newspaper trade and some mail has been irretrievably lost. HS2 would make much more strategic and economic sense if it connected seamlessly with HS1, probably at Stratford in East London, or even indirectly using the old, slow Eurostar route via Waterloo. Apart from adding to England’s London-centric problem, HS2 will add nothing to the planned EU network which is thought by many to have instigated the Whitehall initiative in the first place.

          1. Derek Monnery
            July 26, 2012


            Much of the freight these days is container traffic to and from Felixstowe and Southampton, which uses the West Coast main line to reach the north.
            The main suffering parties at present are places like Milton Keynes where it is no longer p0ssible to provide the passenger train service that the area justifies. The lines are already too full, hence the urgency of the situation

        2. Derek Monnery
          July 26, 2012


          If HS2 was a vanity project, how come all parties support it? Are you saying that all politicians are idiots? (Some probably are!).
          I agree that the Great Central line route would make sense, and indeed a small part of the route does use the alignment.
          But the route goes through city centres and parts of it have been built on, so it really is no longer viable as a whole.

      3. Gewyne
        July 25, 2012

        Can we not just use on of these seems it replaces the sleepers and bedding pretty fast, a train pretty much repairing the line as it drives along – brilliant.

      4. Trevor C
        July 25, 2012

        If Jerry is looking for ‘extra capacity’ on the rail network between London and Birmingham Chiltern Rail have it miles.

        A quick look at the full timetable will show just how much scope there is to run extra trains on its newly upgraded mainline service between the two cities.

        All the capacity business and leisure travellers will ever need for years and years.

  2. JN
    July 25, 2012

    Network Rail are months and months behind on their programme to replace the ageing overhead power lines between Chelmsford and London Liverpool Street. It should have been completed by now, but they have made too many experienced staff redundant and mismanaged the ones that remain. They recently reduced the temperature at which emergency speed restrictions are introduced from 29-31 degrees to 25-27 degrees, so we all knew that the extremely tight Olympic timetables would lead to a national embarrassment.
    The isn’t the fault of Greater Anglia, but Network Rail.

  3. alan jutson
    July 25, 2012

    Ah yes the underground drivers say they may work to rule, after already agreeing a bonus, (reported as a £1000 payment in the Press) for doing their job over the Olympic period.

    So I guess that working to rule means you turn up on time, work to the rules, including health and safety, and go home on time.

    Given that the railways run a fixed timetable, so everyone knows the productivity, employ more drivers, pay them the rate agreed for the job, alter the rules to suit the new basic structure, and thus no overtime, shift payments and the like will be needed.

    Yes aware that illness and holidays need to be covered, so new positions could be formed where people who did other jobs with the same organisation were fully trained relief drivers, to stand in for those drivers who failed to turn up.

    Those relief drivers to be paid the same as the dedicated drivers for the period they were required to do the work, reverting back to their normal position and pay when not required.

    1. alan jutson
      July 25, 2012

      I trust the New proposed high speed line will take account of global warming, after all, would not do to spend all that money and then find that it cannot run because of:

      Leaves on the line
      The wrong sort of snow.
      The cables are too droopy.
      Its too cold.
      Its too wet.
      Its too icy.
      Its too hot.
      Its too expensive.
      Its too crowded.
      It has too few passengers.
      Its copper cable is in demand.
      It does not go from Birmingham to London without using other connections.

      1. lifelogic
        July 25, 2012

        And it has some way to generate the electricity needed sensibly (and cost effectively) from natural gas, coal and nuclear as they work without absurd subsidy.

        1. Bazman
          July 26, 2012

          Nuclear is not subsidised? Care to explain this fantasy?

    2. scottspeig
      July 25, 2012

      Interesting enough, in law, the company could refuse the bonus if all they did was “work to rule” (after the fact of course) as there is no consideration.

      Why they are not sacked for failing to abide by their contracts is beyond me!

      1. uanime5
        July 25, 2012

        If they’re being paid to work and they work then they’ve fulfilled their contract. The fact they decided to ‘work to rule’ (obey all the rules) rather than ignore some rules doesn’t mean there’s no consideration.

        Perhaps the company should update their rules so ‘working to rule’ doesn’t cause so many problems.

      2. Bazman
        July 27, 2012

        Whenever you want something from a company they just quote the contract to you. Funny how if you quote the contract to them you are being unreasonable. Remind us scottspeig. Who is on the scrounge here?
        It might be wise if some of the employees sack their companies. A dispute that their employers could understand.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    July 25, 2012

    Would there be so much enthusiasm for public transport -particularly trains and tube – if you polticians weren’t based in London? I doubt it.
    Incidentally have you worked out how you are going to get to the Olympic rowing yet?
    I think your transport dilemma for that reinforces my earlier point.

  5. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    July 25, 2012

    The last time politically-motivated unions engineered a Season of Discontent, Labour were out of power for a generation. We can but hope.

    1. lifelogic
      July 25, 2012

      But Cameron is just another face of Labour – with his over tax borrow and waste even a “happiness index” and something (he cannot say what for some reason) against a greater Switzerland, perhaps the lower crime rates, greater wealth, fiscal surplus, low tax rates, strong currency, GPP per head nearly double …….. could he please enlighten us what gives him his absurd aversion?

      1. zorro
        July 25, 2012

        I posted some of the incisive research which came out of the Happiness Index on the Border Agency post….


  6. English Pensioner
    July 25, 2012

    The French must be really laughing at us.
    We’d have had none of these problems if the Olympics had been held in Paris; anyone from Britain wanting to see the games could have got there without too much trouble, this country would have saved a fortune, and we could probably have mounted an advertising campaign to attract visitors here once they had seen the games.
    As it is we all have to pay and suffer inconvenience for a few people’s ego trips – people in this country aren’t really interested in athletics, the specially built facilities will never make a profit and in the long term will probably become derelict like those in other countries.
    What a waste!

    1. Farmer Geddon
      July 25, 2012

      Read somewhere that many countries have set up their training bases in specially made facilities near Calais & will travel 50 mins to London when necessary.

      1. alan jutson
        July 25, 2012

        Farmer Geddon

        We could scupper their chances of medals if we had the border agency and train drivers on strike for a few days. !

      2. Electro-Kevin
        July 25, 2012

        Farmer Geddon – You mean that camp at Sangatte ?

    2. lifelogic
      July 25, 2012

      Indeed. Tax payers money down the drain that is what is actually morally repugnant George Osborne.

    3. Barry
      July 26, 2012

      The French have another advantage – it’s called joie de vivre.

      We have bile.

  7. The Prangwizard
    July 25, 2012

    Is it elfnsafety? It will bring the country to a standstill one day. There have been deaths. And as for drivers, etc etc, working to rule, striking etc, etc. Do a Ronald Reagan, that is sack them all and get them to re-apply for their jobs, weed out the lazy and good-for-nothing. Break any strikes. Is there anyone in England with some guts to take a lead and set an example on solving this death by a thousand cuts that affects us all. And as for HS2 – build it!

    1. Brigham
      July 25, 2012

      If only!!

    2. uanime5
      July 25, 2012

      You do realise if you sack all the staff there won’t be any people to drive the trains. Contrary to popular belief you do need training to drive a train, so unless the Government has hundred of trained train drivers to replaced the people who’ve been sacked/go on strike there won’t be any train service during the Olympics.

      1. The Prangwizard
        July 26, 2012

        Ronald Reagan sacked air traffic controllers, planes didn’t fall out of the skies. The moderate workers and the good workers who were sick of being threatened by their union bosses re-applied for their jobs and the lazy and troublemaking were weeded out.

    3. Bazman
      July 26, 2012

      You assume thy are all desperate. What if they all tell you to ram it for the new terms and conditions? Oh you just train more. As long as ideology is fulfilled then it is OK?

  8. Neil Craig
    July 25, 2012

    One state in America has licensed driverless cars for road use. This obviously requires many orders of magnitude more computer capacity than driving a train in a straight line on tracks.

    Driverless trains can go in single carriage units, can work 24/7 & can thus carry far more people more flexibly to more destinations at lower cost.

    Once again state control stifles innovation & in practice works to provide money to government workers rather than service to the public.

    1. uanime5
      July 25, 2012

      The problem with driverless trains is that they can’t brake if there’s an obstruction on the line or if the autopilot malfunctions it effectively becomes a runaway train.

      An automated train is only as good as it’s program and without a person to remedy any problems it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

      1. Electro-Kevin
        July 25, 2012

        Presently my dining table is stacked with manuals as I prepare for my bi-annual assessment which takes place over two days of one-t0-one examination.

        Learning to drive trains isn’t so much about moving them as with knowing how to deal with degraded conditions and equipment, bypassing faults and failures, rescuing stranded sets, engineering possessions, working trains over single lines and passing signals under own authority, dealing with hazchems and other hazards including high voltage electrical incidents.

        Having mentioned all that, the route learning (driving) is underestimated in that it involves much about local instructions, depots and shunt moves – as well as being able to keep time in zero visibility and coping with low adhesion. More importantly it is about knowing how to work around trains and evacuate them. Being stuck with a failed train on the Up Fast in between three 100mph lines with 600 passengers waiting for you to act is not a nice feeling.

        18 months of training to reach basic depot competence. Two to three years to reach full competence at a typical depot – that’s if given a clear run at various traction and route conversions. It never happens like that. Training comes on link progression which can take years.

        No. The unions haven’t tried to increase the training requirements in the interests of protectionism – they’ve tried to shorten them in the interests of ‘inclusivity’. These standards are set by the industry itself post Ladbroke Grove.

        I’m sure that automation will come in at some point but not for some while yet.

        As I mention later, I am no fan of the RMT and prefer Aslef which seems to be more moderate. This is not the time to work to rule in my view.

        1. Electro-Kevin
          July 25, 2012

          PS, Many people have worked damned hard for this event for little or no pay (especially our young athletes)

          That is what union members should bear in mind at the moment.

          1. Jerry
            July 25, 2012

            Indeed Kevin, agree with all you have said with regards training and the unions. Trouble is, most people can’t tell one end of a train from the other for example (and wouldn’t know were to even start looking), even more annoying is that many people at the top of the various TOCs and Network Rail are no wiser than those within the DOT never mind the average man in the street who likes to write “Disgusted of Tonbridge” letter to the press or websites.

      2. Derek Monnery
        July 26, 2012

        Don’t travel on the DLR. It’s been driverless for years!
        On the Jubilee, Central and Victoria lines the driver only starts the train and opens and closes the doors.

        1. Anonymous
          July 26, 2012

          DLR is a light railway. Easy for fitters to get to at any point.

  9. lifelogic
    July 25, 2012

    If you rely on the state sector and trains you put yourselves totally in the hands of the unions and the incompetent and uninterested government. Better to walk/bike/car in general perhaps. Better still just go somewhere sensible and more exciting instead perhaps a walk in country or a local concert or go and do some sport instead.

    1. uanime5
      July 25, 2012

      What state sector trains? I thought they were all sold to the private sector years ago. Though I believe the Government still owns the tracks.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        July 29, 2012

        The trouble is that we haven’t got a proper privatisation because overall railways don’t and can’t make money (to be fair, when Railtrack existed and was allowed to levy track access charges in accordance with market forces, things were not quite so bad – but Byers put a stop to that). The current system is a bonanza for financing companies, lawyers, government administrators and consultants.

        I wouldn’t mind vertically integrated rail area monopolies, provided that they got maximum competition from air, bus, car and road haulage; that would involve having a road building programme and investing a London runway (make it at Gatwick – you can open it by 2019).

    2. Electro-Kevin
      July 25, 2012

      I stood on the platform at Kensal Green having evacuated yet another BR train (IRA coded warning) and had a guy poke me in the chest and say:

      “You wait until Richard Branson gets hold of you under privatisation !”

      One of the first things Mr Branson did (indirectly) was to look at my job spec and doubled my pay.

      Under nationalised BR I was working 13 days in 14 to make a decent wage.

    3. Bazman
      July 26, 2012

      In other words don’t play.

  10. Atlas
    July 25, 2012

    Had the railways been privatized back to entities that both owned and ran their part of the network then I think that such problems as John describes would have been far less. The companies would have a real incentive to get the overall operation working correctly under the differing ‘day-to-day pressures, as they would directly benefit from any required investment they had had to make.

  11. Matthew
    July 25, 2012

    Too hot!

    I caught a train in Williams Arizona last month, the temperature was 110 degrees F ………..43C

    This didn’t seem to represent any problems.

    As for the RMT unions, the individuals taking part in the action must have no pride in the country at all…I’m not a fan of the games, considering it a waste of money, but with the world watching London I would want the UK to be represented in the best light possible.

    1. Jerry
      July 25, 2012

      The USA railroads in Arizona use 25Kv over head catenary, I thought they still used diesel power to provide traction power?…

      1. Matthew
        July 25, 2012

        yep its diesel – goes 60 miles up to Grand Canyon

  12. Derek Emery
    July 25, 2012

    The Bank For International Settlements – “The future for public debt” which can be found by searching for work300 predict for the UK a public debt/GDP ratio by 2020 of 200% if nothing is done and at best 150%. UK structural problems related to aging demographics means that the UK will have a continual problem from now on until 2040 and beyond attempting to keep our Public Debt/GDP ratio below catastrophic ratios.

    Railways are only used for a tiny minority of journeys (less than10%) so benefit barely anybody except the few companies building it. These public projects employ relatively few people for a short period and much of the products used will come from abroad and add to our already poor balance of payments problems. The huge debt will take decades to pay off and worsen our debt problems. Any profit will be miniscule.

    What the country needs is investment in the private sector to generate real growth by compound interest which can never come from any public project. Boosting the private sector requires lower taxation and hence reducing public sector costs which is not being offered.
    The UK will be forced into reducing public expenditure in the end as markets will latch on to a perennially rising debt ration and increase interest rates. How many years are we from the type of public sector cuts that Spain and Greece are being forced to make from our rise in interest rates?

    Reply: Indeed – the official figures with banks and related liabilities are already well over 150%

  13. Mike Stallard
    July 25, 2012

    The Derby. Wimbledon. Various cricket matches. A bit of world class football.

    All without a hitch!

    Now the government is running the show………

    Oh dear!

    Just like that booze up in a brewery, the Dome and millennium when I was so disgusted that I turned over to Graham Norton and the ping pong finals.

  14. Andrew Smith
    July 25, 2012

    What is really annoying is to have been delayed on the Central line so I was late for a meeting but to hear the announcements at every station on other lines about how there was “a good service on all underground lines”.

    Just untruths.

    I have tried to find out how the management regulate the messages but I failed; their FOI team just did not understand the question.

    My nephew is a volunteer at the games so he is staying at my house so he can get the early train some mornings. He has told me fewer trains going to Liverpool Street from Cambridgeshire stop at Stratford than normal; instead they go straight through. Solution – go to Liverpool Street and travel back again to Stratford.


  15. uanime5
    July 25, 2012

    Given that the rail industry hasn’t tried to impress the customers that continue to ride on their trains or tried to attract new customers I can’t see why they would try to impress people who are unlikely to ever use the UK rail industry again.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    July 25, 2012

    I’m no fan of the RMT.

    1. Bazman
      July 26, 2012

      Your high wages are because of the RMT. If it where down to the railways and the government. You would be on lorry drivers wages and conditions or maybe even van drivers.

      1. Anonymous
        July 26, 2012

        My high wages are due only to a demographic shortage combined with a privatised mechanism which will be redressed in time.

        Under nationalised and unionised BR I was paid terribly.

        (Drivers are mainly Aslef btw)

        1. Bazman
          July 27, 2012

          A demographic shortage of men able to drive a train causing a shortage leading to higher wages? Don’t make me laugh. It ain’t rocket science. Your union would go berserk if a job lot of East Europeans were brought in a drivers. I sometimes go to the gym and have to listen how much train drivers earn. 70k no problem and good for them.

          1. No longer anonymous
            July 27, 2012

            Under heavily unionised BR the pay was poor. Few people wanted to do the job. I took a large pay cut from being a police officer to become one.

            I don’t earn anything like 70k but I’m sure that others do.

            During the 70s and 80s there were reduced levels of recruitment owing to lack of investment. Coinciding with privatisation came a large number of retirements, which was unfortunate for the whole project – one or two TOCs decided to sack drivers wholesale which, perhaps, turned out to be regrettable.

            Separate and competing TOCs were set up with numerous stations within walking distance of each other. This left the reduced number of qualified drivers able to pick and choose employers.

            The privateers boosted the wage offers to poach drivers from each other and to attract a better class of candidate than me.

            Many drivers have degrees and boast past careers such as design engineers, bankers, chemists, teachers …

            I expect that the recruitment of Eastern Europeans will come – as will increased automation.

            Heaven forfend ordinary Brits earning a wage that doesn’t necessitate them having to use credit cards or to send mum out to work to buy a house or pay rent.

            As Mr Redwood said in a previous post – UK wages are too low. Or is it that housing costs are too high ???

            Good weekend to you, Bazman


          2. No longer anonymous
            July 27, 2012

            As stated previously, Aslef have requested that aptitude tests such as Mechanical Comprehension are dropped from the selection procedure as they are deemed to be ‘discriminatory’ – don’t quote me, but I heard rumours that the English comprehension was being (or already had been) dropped too for the same reason.

            That’s hardly protectionist of the unions is it ?

          3. No longer anonymous
            July 28, 2012

            Verbal reasoning test dropped in 1992 because it was discriminatory.

  17. Credible
    July 25, 2012

    A much bigger problem to consider is the excessive fares paid by people in your constituency every working day to commute to London who never get a seat and have to frequently put up with all sorts of delays. When can something be done to improve this situation. I regard it as another tax on hard-working people.

    reply: I agree. I am pressing for capacity improvements so people do get a seat, and for efficiency improvements so costs come down. I do not find the railways very responsive to sensible pressure for customer improvement.

    1. Credible
      July 25, 2012

      thanks for your efforts

  18. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    July 26, 2012

    “To cap it all some in the RMT Union think this a good time to work to rule!”

    Those pesky Unions just wanna cause a ruckus. Time to set them hounds loose – or words to that effect.

    I can’t say I’m in favour of Union bashing especially when they have sometihng relevant to say …

    The RMT is highlighting the Problems with PPP – public-private partnership (PPP).

    They believe that it has been a “blunder” – that may or may not be the case but a House of Commons select committee Report said:

    “They show that, disregarding the costs of the Jubilee Line extension, central government expenditure in constant terms has increased from £44.1m in 1997-98 to £1,048m in the current financial year; a increase of 2,276% – over twentyfold.”

    Yes – that’s right – “Government Expenditure” increased by 2,276%.

    There are other problems with PPP & PFI but focussing on the fact that this seems to have been a way of subsidising Private Corporations who can buy and sell shares in PPP / PFI Companies and make enormous profits with little incentive to improve the services, does not appear to be a good deal for the Tax Payer, who faces ever increasing Transportation costs.

    “Instead the mainline from East Anglia decided not to stop some trains at Stratford as it was too hot yesterday.Various tube lines have experienced signal problems in recent days, delaying services”

    It’s not the Unions you should be attacking – it seems strange that you do not criticise the Labour Party who implemented these schemes which have racked up huge debts for the public.

    Would it not have been better value and cheaper, keeping the Railways under Public Control? Or just selling them off entirely without any subsidies to sweeten the deals.

    You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realise that £44.1m (before PPP) is a lot less than £1,048m. The Banking Industry is the ultimate Public-Private Partnership and we have all seen what chaos and destruction that has brought us.

    It’s not the Unions that decided on a Policy to fleece the Tax Payer, Labour did. What are the Conservatives doing to stop it? Allowing the Bank of England to give another £50 billion of Central Bank Money to the Private Reserve Accounts of Bankers. Is that the long term plan ?

  19. simon
    July 26, 2012

    I think perhaps nationalisation was a mistake!

    I however am more concerned about our economy and the lack of growth or jobs for young people in the UK.

  20. David Langley
    July 26, 2012

    Back to Olympia, my dream island in the sun. Where Olympic facilities are owned by all countries, permanent yet updating. Catering and accommodation all countries cuisine. Security and transport UN. Athletes train there all year and the whole shebangle maintained by all countries youth on National Service. Dream or Nightmare.

  21. David Langley
    July 26, 2012

    By the way, it is reported in the “Financial World” that 1 in 10 Swiss is a millionaire. No wonder their trains run like clockwork.

  22. Lindsay McDougall
    July 29, 2012

    Just travel away from London, spend a limited time watching what takes your fancy on the box and find better things to do. I’ve just had a good week’s holiday in Belfast. With the weather at last improving, there will be more opportunities to score for my cricket club. Our first team just won a 50 overs match by one run after batting first. The opposition needed a six to win off the last ball and their shot landed just one foot inside the boundary line. Sure beats watching pouting primadonnas.

    As for that kitsch opening ceremony, how unspeakable. And why are we known as team Great Britain? Have Northern Irish athletes been coerced into representing the Irish Republic or are our lords and masters just plain pig ignorant?

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