Connections

Connections

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a0/Nuneaton_railway_station_MMB_14.jpg/1280px-Nuneaton_railway_station_MMB_14.jpg
Nuneaton Railway Station (wikimedia.org)

Very often, to get from one town to another town, you need to change trains two or three times, in order to complete your journey. This has come to mind because on Thursday my daughter and I went from Sunny Stoke-on-Trent to Leicester, via Nuneaton. Frequently you will find that the first part of your journey is with train operator A and the second part with a different train operator B. Now these are often rival businesses. So if train operator A is late getting into the change-over station then train operator B’s train may not wait for you. Now that could be because train operator B thinks that their trains ought to run on time whenever possible, they have statistics to keep up after all. It could be that they are just plain bloody-minded. It could be that they think that they will look good in customers eyes if it shows up train operator A’s short-commings by making the passengers wait around on the wet and windy platform having time to think about it.

But what people actually think is that train operator A was probably trying their best and was inadvertantly late. In this age of mass communication it is highly unlikely that train operator B was unaware that folk would not have time to make their connection. So you would think that train operator B would be kind and magnanimous and actually show what a great train operator they are by hanging around for a few minutes. Even gives them an oportunity to tell the passengers on board that they need to wait for train operator A’s train to arrive.

I guess that if the railways were re-nationalised then, in theory, connecting trains could all wait for one another. I don’t want to get deeply into politics on this site but I will say that although I admire Jeremy Corbyn for his dedication to the welfare of the majority of ordinary people (why else would politicians be elected?) I do think that he is wrong about re-nationalising the railways. In theory, connections would run more smoothly, if they were re-nationalised, but in practice, without the rivalry to keep operators on their toes, they would become inefficient and a five minute delay would become a fifteen minute delay, which in turn would block the platform up and delay any following trains using the same platform. And that’s not even to mention the increased costs that would be incurred once healthy rivalry between operators has been removed. It is for reasons of costs that councils are nowadays increasingly getting contractors to perform the work rather than taking on employees themselves.

Talking about employees. Theresa May has back-tracked on her proposal to have a worker-representatives on company boards. Tricky one that. I think that companies should be run for employees, executives and shareholders, so why not have representatives from every group? Let us hope that she doesn’t also go back on her proposal to have shareholders votes on executive pay to be binding. I think that shareholders and workers representatives ought to get together and talk more. Many shareholders are pension providers for workers, they have a vested interest in communicating.

What was I talking about?

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