Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Green Party Want to Abolish Long-Distance Railway Lines

On the website of the Green Party is the following pronouncement:
These screenshots are taken from the Green Party Mini Manifesto
Let’s have a look at the figures. We’ll take, for example the West Coast Main Line between London and Glasgow. With assumptions, of course, but we’ll err on the generous.
There are twenty direct trains a day from Glasgow to London. So with one in each direction, that is 40 trains per day.
Some of the trains have a bigger capacity than others, and some will be fuller than others, and some people won’t go the whole journey, so let’s err on the generous side, we’ll assume the shorter trains but full all the way in each direction. That will be 439 people filling 40 trains per day, that is 439 × 40 = 17,560 people per day.
But wait a minute, we can assume that those people who go, nearly all also come back, so it isn’t 17,560 people, it’s half that, in terms of number of people. So 8,780 per day.
Multiply that number by the number of days in the year and you get 6,409,000 people, approximately ten per cent of the population.
But hang on again, that is assuming that everyone who uses the train makes just one return journey per year. One a month would be more like it, many people even do it weekly. So if we assume an average per person of a journey per month, that is 6,409,000 ÷ 12 = 534,117 people, which is a bit less than 1% of the population.
Of course there are assumptions and generalities in there. There’s almost certainly an overestimate of capacity – most trains are not 100% full, especially in first class; and not everyone who undertakes that journey travels the whole way, people get on and off at intermediate stations. Balanced against that, though, is that many people who do the shorter stretch travel on the line not monthly, but daily. So without having access to absolute figures, these estimates seem to be to be about fair. About right.
So there we are then, the London to Glasgow railway line is pointless and hugely expensive according to the Green Party, a train line for the 1%, not the 99% of rail users.
You could do this for almost every railway line. 1% of the population is 640,000 people, quite a lot of people. Most railway lines would seem quite busy, carrying that number of people, especially the commuter lines, where the same person tends to travel the same line for five or six days per week.
It looks very much like the Green Party are swinging us a dud one here. And if you can’t believe them on that . . .

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Virgin Trains – Brand is All

Some of Virgin Train’s attempts at amusing marketing are yukky. But this one I like. On a Pendolino from London last night. I wonder how many people actually notice.
Postscript: I distributed this pic around the airwaves and people came back and told me that it has been in place for nearly two years. Old news indeed. This has led me to some intriguing philosophical observations, for it is clear that unlike it would seem everyone else in Britain, when I am on a train I very seldom go to the lavatory, whereas everyone else does, as often as not more than once. I should have known that really as people are always jumping up and making their way to the end of the carriage. I am almost certain that this is predominantly a British trait, it is one of the British characteristics that immigrants need to learn in order to satisfy the citizenship requirements.
The other thing relating to Pendolinos and toilets is that at least one of the toilets on a Pendolino is adapted for people in a wheelchair. There is a wide door that slides open in a circle, then you enter the cubicle, usually the people doing this will not be in a wheelchair nor physically disabled at all to any noticeable extent; and then comes the problem of how do you close the door?
In fact there is a row of three push-buttons, marked close, lock and open (or is it close, unlock and open - something like that) but that relies upon something that those who designed the train seem to have been disgracefully unaware of, it is that many people in fact do have a disability, one that is shamefully neglected by those who design facilities on railway trains or anywhere else for that matter, it is the disability of many people to be able to read instructions.
So people look around in panic, their legs crossed and the door of the cubicle wide open to the passing world, and they press the first button they see, which happens to say on it: ‘alarm’. Now admittedly, in the focus of the right-on bog designers on making the facilities for people in wheelchairs come to the fore above all else, the alarm button is the first thing you see, you do have to search a bit for the door close button, but the effect of this is that on every journey on a Pendolino, and I mean literally every journey, the toilet alarm sounds at least three or four times, often much more than that, which of course also means that no one takes any notice of it. I’m not sure what would happen if someone in a wheelchair were ever actually to find themselves foundering in the onboard toilet. They could be there for days.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Helpful Bonking

Strange typeface to use, with the lower case a looking very similar to o, when your strapline includes the word ‘banking’. Perhaps the van will get more customers than it bargained for.