Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Britain’s “can-do” spirit emerges…then scuttles back into hiding

Posted in Commuter, Great Britain, Infrastructure by Chairman Pip on 8 January 2010

The UK has been going through a significant amount of weather over the last few weeks. I spoke about the cold snap before Christmas that led to mass cancellations and service disruption in London (to the extent that, on one particular day the only train running in Kent was a railtour hauled by Peppercorn A1 60163 Tornado). In November 2009, before the snow and ice, we had the rain…lots and lots of it, especially in Cumbria. The flooding that was caused was so bad that all of the road and footbridges crossing the River Derwent either collapsed or were declared unsafe and closed, leaving the rail bridge the only crossing for 50 miles. This cut people on the north side of the river off from the rest of the town. So, the local council, Network Rail and Northern Rail leapt into action and decided to open a new station connecting Workington station and the rest of the town. Construction of Workington North was approved without planning permission by Allerdale Council; the simple station structure was started on the 24th November with the station opening on the 30th November, with Northern revising their timetable so that all their scheduled trains in both directions call there. In addition, a shuttle service operated by DRS for Northern and funded by the DfT was also started until at least the 31st December. As a consequence, until such time as the road bridges are restored, the people of Workington at least have access to both sides of their town. That is true a true “can-do” attitude. It’s a shame that it occurs so infrequently. The country has been hit by a cold snap the last few days, culminating in snowfall all over the place. Obviously, this is worse in some places than others – you’re always going to get more snow and lower temperatures in the Scottish Highlands than in London. However, the snow down here has been much less than even the freak occurence in February 2009. And yet, on Tuesday evening, before so much as a flake had fallen, notices were up at the London termini serving the south of England stating that there would be a revised and reduced timetable. There’s anticipation, and then there’s just giving up the ghost, and that is just giving up the ghost. They could at least have made an effort to run a full service, and if they found that wasn’t working because of the conditions, tried something else. But no. It does make you wonder what people that live in countries that are usually much much colder than this in the winter make of it all – the conditions in Toronto are perpetually below freezing, and yet GO Transit, the local public transport operator, are operating a full train service on all of the lines. The “can-do” attitude that brought about the construction and opening of Workington North in 6 days has obviously scuttled back into hiding.

“Workington gets new rail station after Cumbria flood”
National Rail Enquiries – Service Disruptions

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