The railways have been doing rather well recently – with the odd exception like the overhead wires coming down on the East Coast yesterday – so attention has focussed on the airports and airlines. In an email to me, Mark Rand of the Friends of the Carlisle Settle Line points out that the railways have missed a good PR opportunity: ‘I have watched in frustration this weekend as the railway industry has missed the PR man’s dream of an opportunity to promote itself. Problems for sure but rail has been coping very well compared with road and air.’
It’s a good point. The trouble is the media are always more interested in the bad news than the good stories, and now that there is no longer ‘rail chaos’, they’ve gone for the aviation industry. With good reason. BAA boasted that it had spent £500,000 on winter prevention measures which seems laughable. Then I heard on Radio 5 that
BA, too, seemed all too ready to cancel flights, rather than trying to get as many people away as poss. All in all, plenty for the railways to exploit, but as usual the lack of a fat controller means the opportunity will be lost.
It is rather unfortunate for Mr Hammond that today he is announcing the proposed route for HS2, which means that he cannot hold a press conference on that as he will get snowed under with questions about the white stuff. In truth, of course, it is very little to do with him.