Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Train Now Standing

I was expecting a thirty minute queue at the security entrance to Westminster yesterday evening but it was just me. The Great Hall was being laid out for President Obama's visit today and so Parliament was very quiet indeed, possibly with more armed police than visitors.

Up to the committee room for an AGM and meeting on next generation broadband, where we were joined by our Technology Forum President, Adam Afriye MP,  Chairman and MEP, Malcolm Harbour and MP's Ian Taylor, Therese Coffey and Rory Stewart.

I'm somewhat of a TE Lawrence and Wilfred Thesiger fan having once travelled across much of the Middle-east on a mountain bike and told Rory how much I enjoyed his TV documentary on that great World War I hero, Lawrence.  Stewart is a new Conservative MP and an adventurer and Arabist of that same determined character that once gave us an Empire. In January 2002 he walked across Afghanistan; surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. "Along the way he met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion - a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following."

Back to Victoria station for the 20:51 that wasn't and I wondered if it might have been quicker to walk home. Eventually the delayed train made an appearance and for once the journey continued without any surprises. I've written before that SouthEast trains have a record of punctuality second to none and once again they proved it last night. The sooner the franchise is given to another company, the better where I'm concerned.

As for the limitless sands of Arabia, I have to narrow my own horizons to the beaches of Thanet and regular business trips to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. However, unlike Thesiger, I don't have to struggle across the endless 'Empty Quarter' on a camel, because I can hear many different Arabic dialects within easy walking distance of my home.


cookie said...

I work on the trains & believe you me they are very prompt indeed these days.
You are always going to get the occasional break down or hold up as you would in any other travel business.
All I can say is that you were unfortunate at the times you travelled. That or someone like me saw you coming.l.o.l.
For you to make untrue comments of that nature is out of order.
Still Im sure you will have a good answer,you always do.
Generally Southeasterntrains are pretty good (& I'm not saying that just because I work for them).
I'll ignore all your other egotistic comments about your days out.

DrM. said...

Cookie.. you must be living in a hole?!

SE trains has such a poor record that even Kent MPs are involved in calling for them to lose their franchise. You must have missed all the news reports, BBC SE News et al besides my remarks on this weblog and 'Tweets', every time they let me down.

I've commented before that I have a one in three chance of having the train run on time and from experience it's such a risk that as a matter of policy now I always take one train earlier for any London meetings or the high speed for a Heathrow connection!

As for my 'egotistic comments', this is my weblog/diary. It comes with a health warning on the sidebar and you don't have to visit and be bothered by what I write but thousands do, many of whom I dare say have a greater sense of humour, broader interests or dare I say it, are somewhat smarter than you are!

Cookie said...

Ooh its my toy & your not playing with it! l.o.l.
Do you always talk down to people like that?
Ok your blog.You show off as much as you want then..
Hey I might not as bright as some but people like me are more clever than those that are supposedly more brainier but in various other spheres so dont patronise me even though it it your blog.
Just for the record,Southeastern trains have recently been allowed to continue with their franchise so I'm surprised you arent up to speed on this.
You'll have a wait a while yet before you can travel with another company.
Look,with whatever company you travel with(in this country) you'll get simlar patterns & simlar delays but to be fair,this company have improved 10 fold & have been doing so for a while now.
Only being there everyday seeing what is occurring can one make a fair judgement.
The odd journey dosent qualify anyone,you included,to make an overall judgement of the company & I say overall because comments on one's occasional journey is acceptable & indeed is welcomed by the company.
As for me not having a sense of humour.You are joking!

Cookie said...

In reply to your 2.33 post,again showing off.
I think you have me mixed up with another & if its about what I posted then it seems its YOU who now dosent have a sense of humour.

Michael Child said...

Simon who is the new Mayor of Margate?

DrM. said...


Iris is the Mayor of Margate and she has chosen a Lady Mayoress companion.

DrM. said...

Cookie, Southeastern may have improved - I have their information passed to me on a regular basis by their PR office and I draw your attention to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-12786562



'Better' may not be 'satisfactory' where the long-suffering travelling public are concerned and the company may have improved but has a very long way to go if both the media and personal experience is any measure of its efficiency and popularity

Cookie said...

Well I cant get anything on your link to BBC but here's one telling you about Southeastern getting the francise renewed for a further 2 years.

Cookie said...

Sorry,got your link working now. Same as mine then.
There are going to be problems as I've said before.You get problems in the air you get problems on the road,any form of transport has its off days.
Despite the bad publicity & points mentioned in the link do you really think the company would have got an extension to the francise had they been extensively poor in their business.

DrM. said...

Cookie, in business terms, a 2 year extension doesn't sound much like an overwhelming vote of confidence to me but rather a shot across the bows!

Cookie said...

Hey, they wouldn't have been given ANYTHING had they been bad.
I tell you this,they will get it renewed again at the end of this period.
Seems we will just have to agree to disagree on this.Enough for today.Nice talkng to you.

DrM. said...

Maybe they will and the service will no longer carry the fierce criticism it has in the past.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well done Cookie defending your employers shows loyalty which is so short in supply these days.

I wonder if local councillors (regardless of thier politics)were subject to the same scurtiny as industry how many would actually even get a satisfactory rating. Probally not a lot as most would come up as unsatisfactory.

DrM. said...

Not quite sure where councillors got linked with train delays but very little surprises me these days!

Anonymous said...

Local Councillor criticizes train delays. Is that not a link?

FedUpWithPoliticians said...

I am not a councillor. South Eastern trains are often delayed. There's a link - anonymous citizen says trains run late. By your logic 9;01 that means that all citizens say that trains are delayed. Cookie is probably a SET manager or the like.

Anonymous said...

I travel 3-4 days a week to London from Westgate and find the SouthEastern service to be excellent. In my experience the trains run more or less to time, the ride is smooth and comfortable, and the staff are amazingly friendly.
I've lived in a number of different suburbs of London and experienced a much worse service on Southern, First Capital Connect and South-West trains.
I've also returned recently from South Australia where the train service is appalling in comparison.

Anonymous said...

Cookie happens to be a train guard who has to put up with a load of crap from both his employers and the travelling public.
Have seen him in action and he is good at his job and always pleasant to the passengers.
How would you like to have to deal with people trying to travel without paying, being violent to you and other passengers and those being sick over the floor and seats.
Yes some trains are delayed but most times it is something out of the train operators control and as a person who has been travelling to and from London daily since 1986 as long as I am being kept informed about how things are going I will put up with any disruptions

DrM. said...

I don't think anyone here denies that Cookie is conscientious and I believe I've met him on the train to London in the past. It's the service level we are or at least I am discussing and that had attracted considerable criticism from other quarters over the last 12 months.

The question is really one of whether SE trains are improving enough to keep their franchise in the future?

Anonymous said...

Who are the new mayors of Broadstairs and Ramsgate?

DrM. said...

I see that someone today had a more unusual complaint for Southeastern trains to deal with!