For the non Brits here, he is currently the Transport Minister, dealing with our wonderful (not!) railway service, assuming he hasnt resigned over Brexit like so many others, lol?
Its been a while since I had the misfortune to need to travel on Trans Pennine Express, but today was an LGBT committee meeting in Manchester, so I had to take my chances. I did look at the live departures board before leaving, and it looked like they were failing to provide any form of decent service, and so it proved when I got into Huddersfield.
I actually went through the barrier at 9.10, to catch the 9.01 train to Manchester, and I still had to wait more than 5 minutes for that. Oh, and at that point, the 8.52 train still hadnt arrived, and wasnt even due for 10 minutes after the train I caught.
The train crawled its way to near Stalybridge before announcing that it was now so late (about 20 minutes) that it was terminating there, and that we could catch the next train to Manchester Piccadilly, which was right behind us. I dont know who told him that, because soon after we all got off, in the freezing cold, it was announced said train was delayed, and they finally admitted it was actually nearly 30 minutes behind us!
Fortunately, shrewd commuter syndrome hasnt deserted me, there was a stopping train to another station in Manchester, leaving about 10 minutes later, so I struggled across and got on that. I should have got to the meeting venue about 9.50, I actually got there at 10.28 Luckily I allow for TPE being so awful, so I only entered the meeting room 2 minutes late!
Funnily enough, getting home was only slightly better. I arrived at Piccadilly station, after the meeting, at 14.47. Yes, I got the 14.40 train, with ease, which actually left about 14.55! Oh, and what annoys me most, fares are going up by over 3% next month!
Not that the other local train company, Northern Rail are any better. I cant remember the last time they actually ran trains on a Saturday due to a strike caused by their obstinacy over an issue with the union, who have the support of the Transport Department!
Ah well… At least I have a session in the brainwashing pod, sorry, flotation tank to look forward to on Thursday. Or with luck, not remember it, lol!
OK, video time. Same song, twice over. Firstly, the murdered cover version, which I have to post, because it matches up to the TPE rail service
Secondly, a blatantly mimed version of the original version, but more recently ‘performed’. As live as a TPE train service, lol
I dont know how many of my US readers (and there are seemingly plenty) who will get the lack of logical stuff in this blog, seeing their National Rail System, where beyond a few lucky areas, most places still on the Amtrak network get 1 train a day, or less! East coast (especially North East), fine, same with West coast, but in between, well…? Rolls eyes! Of course, distance, and the fact that everyone has to live modern life at a rapid speed means the gap in between is generally done by plane, but anyway…
It would be reasonable to assume that train fares would be cheapest, especially between reasonable sized towns, and cities would be best served by one fare covering all, right? If only it was that easy! I’ve been looking at the fare between Huddersfield, and Inverness, for September, and the standard return for the journey, with senior railcard, comes in at just under £100 according to the National Rail Website. So, some might say fair enough, thats the price you have to pay, and leave it at that, and buy your ticket, yes?
What if I said, that if I used the perfectly legal method known as split ticketing, I can do it for just over £72! And yes, if times suited, and they dont for 2 ‘less than young’ folk (hence the senior railcards), I could actually do it for about £66! Fine, it means having to carry 6 rail tickets each, instead of 2 (one each way), but the difference in cost…wow! All because, strictly there are no advance tickets between here, and Inverness, but because beyond Edinburgh, and Inverness sections, you can buy them for each portion, and the cost drops dramatically! Even more so, when you think those reduced fares include an admin charge for the online company providing the details!
Lets just say I’m not an internet genius, but thankfully I know enough for websites like this, and can save a fortune for the trip. And before anyone says that it only works for long distance trips, sadly not true. I put in the details for our day trip to Kyle of Lochalsh, to see Skye, assuming that all there would be for a shorter trip, was the standard day return, about £18 at our reduced rates. No, unadvertised advance fares reduce it to £15, even with handling charge! No, the other trip, to Aviemore, to go on a steam train, shorter, so no bargain there. Ah well, but…
Yes, seriously, is it any wonder that you only ever hear complaints about rail fares when you see things like this? If only the masses knew, and could book in advance…?
Right, video time. There is a clue in the blog title, no shock there, I guess?
Yes, a subject tonight that very much relates to me, without being a transgender issue, the announcement of the increase in train fares as from January next year. Seriously, I wouldnt mind the rise being slightly above inflation if it meant we were going to get a more punctual, and reliable service, more coaches on the trains (so its less like playing sardines in a can), or anything like that, but it wont. We keep getting told that the above inflation rise over the last 6 years (and for the next 2 at least) is meant to do that, but so far there is absolutely no evidence of it happening, at least with First Transpennine Express, thats for sure.
I’m not saying Northern Rail are perfect (they arent, btw), but they are a lot more reliable than TPE, but thats hardly the greatest challenge under the sun. But given they play second fiddle for me, or should do at least, I’m happy with what I get. To be honest, most of their delays on the Huddersfield line are related to late running TPE trains anyway!
Having said that, TPE dont seem to have the worst record running through Leeds, though thats hard to believe. That unenviable record goes to a company called Cross Country, who barely seem to run any trains on time, to be honest. But still, despite their awfulness, their fares will go up by an average of 4.1% next January, whereas if I’m lucky, I might get a 2% rise!
I’d love to say the government are to blame, and to some degree they are, as Labour politicians are happy to tell us. What they conveniently forget is that this whole above inflation rise issue was bought in by them, and it was they who got us into our current financial mess in the first place. Ah well…
In more cheerful news, I just got my first royalty statement as an author, from Draft2Digital, seems I earned a whole $23.69 from Amazon in July, which I will try not to spend all at once, especially as I wont get paid until October. Sales from August so far have been dreadful, so looks unlikely that I will be giving up the day job at least. Does mean I dont have to find time to write something new though, so may be mixed blessings?
Beyond that, I now have a full set of silver nails (fingers and toes) again after today, and my hair is more of a length that Brooksie would approve of again. Next week will see a much needed massage, my knees are starting to object loudly to all the walking I do, even if the back seems relatively calm at present. Still, 39 days from now, I will be a Virginia Belle, in location at least, if nothing else!
Lastly, can someone explain shoe sizes to me? I have a pair of 9 pumps, that are a tight fit, equally I have a pair of low/medium heels, that are a 7.5, and are a bit loose! Aargh!
Right, video. Back to the original rant. I went looking for Metroland, by OMD, and found this, even more apt. We are the robots…bleep…bleep…bleep