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Friday 26 April 2013

All Aboard The Wrong Photo Express

[Update at end of post]

The cheap and nasty approach of the once-great Daily Express has been shown up yet again this morning as the paper’s website has attempted to illustrate a story about travel disruption between London and Brighton on the National Rail network and in its desperation selected a photo that has nothing to do with the line, the trains, or indeed the network.
Where on the Brighton Line is this scene?

Rush-hour rail chaos after fire alert at signalling centre” read the headline, and thus far Charlotte Meredith was factually correct. There had been a fire alert at Three Bridges, which controls the Brighton Line south of East Croydon, along with much else. As with any building, those inside had to evacuate the premises until firefighters had attended and given the all clear.

So there had to be a photo showing some of those commuters. In the old days, a photographer might have moseyed over to Victoria, along with a junior hack, and some quick interviews, along with a couple of photos, would have been done. But under the less than benign leadership of Richard “Dirty” Desmond, proper reporting such as this is no longer permitted.

Problem is, as there is also no specialist knowledge, unless someone involved in putting the article together can tell one train type, or station, or indeed part of the country from another, then the results can be, shall we say, unpredictable. So it should surprise no-one that the photo used is not London’s Victoria terminus, or indeed any station between there and Brighton.
It isn't: it's the adjacent platform to this one

Moreover, it shows a train that could not run on the National Rail network, and would not be permitted to do so. The immediate clue is the sign reading “Piccadilly Line”. The photo was taken on the London Underground network. Where is the station? Well, the train at the right is the type currently in service on the District Line. And the distinctive overall roof is that at Earl’s Court.
Meanwhile, this really is on the Brighton Line

Had the photographer pointed the lens a little higher, it would have revealed the station’s distinctive train indicators – I’ve shown the ones at the adjacent platform. And just to help Des’ finest, I’ve also included a photo of a station on the Brighton Line (Clapham Junction) with the kind of train that will be familiar to all those hard pressed commuters on Southern.

So the Express has shown a photo not of commuters heading into London, but those who are already there. And on the wrong network. And, as the signal indicators in the background show, not being inconvenienced by signalling problems. But what the heck, it’s a photo of a train with lots of people on it, and it’s cheap and available.
Which, at the Express, can mean only one thing: it’s part of another Benchmark Of Excellence!

[UPDATE 1550 hours: as has been pointed out (see comment #1), the Express is no stranger to getting its rail stories horribly wrong. Back in February, Frederick Forsyth, supposedly the ultimately forensic researcher where his novels were concerned, scribbled a rant about the HS2 project in which he suggested that trains on the East Coast Main Line ran only a third full.

This would have come as news to those punters, shown most recently on one of the BBC2 documentaries on the rail network, who routinely have to stand between London's King's Cross terminus and somewhere north of Doncaster. Then Freddie pulled a whopper about the Nerherlands' high speed line. But he saved his biggest howler for somewhere closer to the capital.

HS2, he asserted, was "planned to destroy great swathes of the beautiful Cotswolds". That would be news to those involved with HS2, which will go nowhere near the Cotswolds. It is, however, intended to pass through the Chilterns. Forsyth needs to remember that Dirty Des sent most of his sub-editors down the road, and that there is therefore nobody to correct his howlers]


Chris Neville-Smith said...

Yay! I guessed the correct station. And I don't even live anywhere near London.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Chris Neville-Smith said...

On a more serious note, the record of fact-checking and accuracy from the Daily Express has been very poor lately. If you look at this article:


You will notice that Frederick Forsythe things HS2 goes through the Cotswolds instead of the Chilterns. It might just about be forgivable for a columnist to make this mistake (albeit with serious questions about how much we can trust the rest of the article), but the fact that no-one at the Express bothered to point out such a basic error suggests they don't care in the slightest about facts as long as it panders to their readers' prejudices.

rob said...

@ Chris Neville-Smith

Strange that Freddy should be culpable of such an error. His books used to go to extraordinary lengths of detail almost in order to prove he had done the research.

Perhaps he has "caught" lazy from his employer.

Tim Fenton said...


Chris, thanks for the heads up. That's definitely worth an update.