Railway can no longer respond to crisis

After the Xmas Eurostar debacle, the company repeatedly said that it would improve its website in future to communicate better with its passengers and respond better to crisis. Fat chance. On the website today, there is a mere two paragraph warning telling people not to come to the stations without a ticket but there is no mention of any extra trains or anything that is being done to accommodate displaced air passengers.

There is no attempt to  inform travellers of what to do and no news about any extra trains. Given the spare capacity on the line, the extra train sets mouldering in sidings, it should not be beyond the whit of the management to rustle up a few extra trains and take advantage of the airlines misfortune.

But no. This shows the extent to which the company is unable to respond to changing circumstances. As I said after the xmas debacle, there is a desperate need for fresh management and new thinking. Eurostar has all the failings of old railway thinking, and behaves like the monopoly that it is.

The domestic operators are not doing much better. East Coast put on an extra service today, and Virgin a couple, but events such as this demonstrate the inflexibility of the railways, and the fact that they are not a form of transport that can be relied upon at times of crisis.  This suggests they are a nice addition to our transport infrastructure, but not really a fundamental part of it, which begs the question of whether the subsidy they receive is justified.

Stop press: Network Rail has just announced that it will cancel any engineering work that gets in the way of long distance train travel.  Sensible, but why does it not do that more often when, for example, there are big sports occasions.

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