Good afternoon, interweb.
A new topic of which I enjoy quite a lot, and that’s the railway. Yes, that’s right, those worn down pieces of metal with wooden sleepers in between. I have always been very fond of the railway, all sorts of engines, the infrastructure behind it, the people that work the rails to keep Britain moving every day, the rail fares and more. In this post I’ll be covering all of that, with my views on the present and future of the railway, and what I like about it.
Since a very young age, I have always had a keen interest in trains. As a kid, I used to love playing with model railways, watching Thomas The Tank Engine, I even saw it a couple of times in Devon as a wee kid. Wonderful memories. Even now it truly amazes me that someone, or people, have built those bleddy great engines that sit on our railway that take passengers to and from around the UK. Unfortunately it is a shame a lot of trains, from steam to loco’s have been decommissioned now, although some have been restored. Such as the fantastic Flying Scotsman, and various other steam engines. A lot of loco’s in the UK now have been sent off to Eastern Europe, although a lot of people privately own trains here in Britain. I say hats off to those people, who still believe they belong here on our railways. I would love to own a train, a couple of carriages and live on it. That’s the dream.
Now, that dreaded topic that everyone loves to talk about; rail fares. I used to be one of those people, quite young in my teens, who used to moan about rail fares. Until I researched and found out why, for those who don’t understand, give this a read and you’ll understand. The whole railway network is owned and run by Network Rail, they have the job of fixing broken lines, electric cables and station maintenance. You name it, they run everything, and it costs, oh boy does it cost. If a train is late, someone has to foot the bill, it’s either Network Rail or the train companies. We’re talking millions of pounds every day, the engineers at Network Rail have time limits on when to complete a task. Before the next train comes through, because they know if they have to stop trains, it’ll cost money and piss more people off. That’s where us humans come in, you may not believe it but our money that we cough up for train fares actually pays for things like maintenance on the rails, the cleaners to make sure your journey is clean and safe. Everything from sweeping up bodies off the track, to cleaning the toilets, removing garbage from carriages, to even moving animals off the tracks to ensure your train runs on time. Some of the things these people have to see and do to make sure your train runs smoothly and on time, to me is worth paying the fare. Of course there is inflation, but if people booked fares in advance (If they can) they would quite easily find cheaper fares, you can also do it in single tickets. So from Plymouth to Bristol, it would cost, let’s say £45 return. If I booked that with stations in between such as Exeter and Taunton, I’ll get it less. Of course not everyone can do this, I appreciate that. Here’s another one for those who love to moan about train fares, Southwest Trains is owned by the Stagecoach company which runs from Exeter up to London and surrounding areas, the same Stagecoach company who runs Megabus and Falcon coaches. If anyone has ever used the Megabus, you’ll be aware of the prices and how cheap they can be, to as little as £1 and even in some cases, free tickets. I recently found the ‘Megatrain’ same company, using Southwest trains instead. Same fares, and I even found £1 train fares from Exeter to London, some at night, some in the afternoon. All you have to do is go onto the Megabus website, choose From Exeter to London and look at dates. Majority of them start at £7 and you’ll pay no more than £21 in most cases, but again PRE BOOK IT IN ADVANCE. That’s if you live in Devon of course, but look at websites like these and I’m sure you can find good prices and cracking fares like I did recently. It’s all about booking it in advance, people can just be pure lazy. I hope this helps someone! Let me know what you find.
The other things I love about the railway in Britain, it is so British. That uniqueness. I love it. Money talks though, and things are changing on the railway. Including transformations of trains and stations, take Kings Cross in London for example. One of the oldest railway stations in Britain, went under a makeover to transform it into a wonderful piece of architecture. With more space for passengers, more cafe’s and shops to look around and sit in whilst you’re waiting for a train. There are a lot of stations that haven’t really changed over the years, for example, My city Plymouth. It is what it is, but there is a plan for it to be changed, although not a massive change. It’s more to do with what’s surrounding it, making it more accessible and ready for the HS2 line when it comes down here, if it does. I like the idea of changes happening in the city I live in, I welcome it in fact.
The present and future of the railway in the UK, I think it’s taking the right step, although in my own world, I wouldn’t have these fancy new high speed trains that are tilted. I would still use good old fashioned trains because I think it’s wonderfully British, in Devon you can still these old trains and carriages, for a premium. Having been around Europe a few times, in countries like Belgium, France and Germany, I notice that these super fast high speed trains and networks already it exist. I think we are quite far behind in terms of new rail infrastructure and spanking new trains. We’re getting there, but will it make people moan less? Do we trust these trains to be safe on our railway? A lot of test have been done with the new Hitachi trains, although they are very smart looking, I do still worry. I haven’t seen the trains up close, but I believe we’ll be able to ride them soon. IMHO I still prefer the Inter City 125 HST, which has served the line for so many years and still are to this day. No doubt one day, they’ll ship them off to Hungary or some middle eastern country. Or Cornwall.
I really hope I covered some bases, your feedback would be wonderful as always.