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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Guido Fawked - Chuka Rail Fail

[Updates, two so far, at end of post]

Sometimes, a lack of attention to detail, ignorance of the subject, and desperation come together to undo those who would sit in judgment on the political classes. Nowhere could this be seen to better effect than when the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog went after Labour MP Chuka Umunna for being less than totally satisfied with the rail service out of London’s Victoria station.
Fart in lift Inquiry leaks under pressure

CHUKA USES TRAGIC TRAIN DEATH TO TRASH PRIVATE SECTOR” is the magnificently dishonest headline, with the post tellingYesterday evening Labour’s Chuka Umunna tweeted his great displeasure at being delayed in returning to his luxury art-deco penthouse apartment in Streatham … Chuka blamed the delay on the private-sector Southern Railway and immediately tried to politicise the issue, making clear he wanted the service brought back into the public-sector”. Superfluous hyphens’r’us rule, eh?

But do go on: “Unfortunately for Chuka these delays out of Victoria had nothing to do with the private ownership of the railways, rather the sad news of a body on one of the lines”. Did the Fawkes folks actually contact train operator Southern before concluding thus? As if you need to ask. But let’s put this turkey out of its misery.

One, today is March 4. So in that context, “Yesterday evening” is March 3. Umunna’s Tweets are from March 2. So that’s one thing wrong.

Two, the Tweet from Southern is timed a full five hours before Umunna’s. By that time, even if the tracks at South Croydon had not been cleared, there would have been plans in place to run a restricted service using other routes. So that’s two things wrong.

Three, Network Rail, which runs the track and signalling - and Victoria station - is nothing to do with the private sector. It is a state-owned company, and its debt is on the public sector balance sheet. And the DfT specifies what trains Southern has in its fleet, and what services it runs. So that’s three things wrong.

Four, from Umunna’s first Tweet, three of the four trains shown on the indicator board do not run via South Croydon. So five hours after the event, there should be less of a problem running them. So that’s four things wrong.

And five, while we’re talking about using tragic deaths to trash particular sectors of the economy, perhaps the Fawkes rabble could explain their using the tragic deaths of new-born babies in the care of Furness General Hospital to drive another of their routine sneers at the NHS? So that’s four things wrong, plus a slice of stinking hypocrisy.

Hello Fawkes folks! If you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about, try getting knowledgeable first, eh? Otherwise that 4% positive trust rating might take a serious knock. Another fine mess, once again.

[UPDATE1 1540 hours: it seems that even the basic premise of the Fawkes post is untrue. A Zelo Street reader has drawn my attention to an item in Crawley News.

This told "THERE are delays and cancellations to trains to and from Crawley and Three Bridges after police received reports a person had been hit by a train at a station ... British Transport Police (BTP) received reports a person has been hit by a train at South Croydon earlier this afternoon (Monday, March 2)".

However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the report then goes on to say "However, when officers arrived these reports turned out to be false ... Passengers are warned to expect disruption on the Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express networks until at least 4pm".

Moreover, Chuka Umunna tweeted from Victoria more than three and a half hours after the time by which it was estimated that services would return to normal.

So there was no "tragic train death" - to add to all the other untrue statements the Fawkes rabble made. Say sorry to Chuka, Fawkes folks. Another fine mess, indeed]

[UPDATE2 March 5 1130 hours: after Sunny Hundal picked up on the Fawkes mob's lame attack on Chuka Umunna, it became clear that they had amended their post in an attempt to remove the assertion that there had been a death.
Before ...

However, and here we encounter the crucial however, I took a screen shot of the original, so we can see what was changed. Note that the first headline read "CHUKA USES TRAGIC TRAIN DEATH TO TRASH PRIVATE SECTOR". This was changed in the update to "CHUKA USES TRAGIC TRAIN TRACK TRAGEDY TO TRASH PRIVATE SECTOR".
... and after

And then the line "rather the sad news of a body on one of the lines" was removed. So the Fawkes rabble had not asserted that there had been a death - they were only reporting what train operator Southern was telling, and leaving the rest to their readers' imaginations.
Job done, then? Sadly not: the post's URL ... STILL HAS THE WORD DEATH IN IT. The Fawkes folks can't even cover their tracks competently. Another fine mess]


rob said...

The Sun says:

"Fenton forensically fillets & flays Fatty Fawkes flouting facts farago"

Probably not!

SteveB said...

The problem with Chukka is that he is a politician. Like hacks, they have an interesting genetic mutation - they cannot cope with understanding any point about railways.

In this case Fawkes was definately wrong - because Network Rail were booking the evening cancellations to Track Circuit Failure. The 1752 in the photo for instance, http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/W74353/2015/03/02/advanced (this link will self destruct 8 days after the event).

Chukka was also slightly wrong, because that is definately a Network Rail issue! BUT, lack of info and advice on alternatives being fed to people on the station is Southerns, and that sort of thing can make the passengers' problems much worse than they would be.

rob said...

Update from The Sun:

We regret to announce the passing of the Guido Fawkes blog due to inconvenient fact finders . RIP.

Further update:

Sorry Guido Fawkes blog not dead - typo error read fact when should have been fat.

SteveB said...

A thought has occurred to me which is not exactly connected with the Fawkes posts but is something for Chukka to think about.

What EXACTLY did Southern tell the stranded passengers during the evening? Or did they let the afternoon announcement run?

Network Rail will be giving Southern credits in the delay fund, effectively paying compensatin, for the track circuit failure delays. And subject to their Passenger Charter delay agreement, Southern may be liable to pass a lot of that on to delayed passengers. BUT, most TOCs have a clause that means they are not liable to pay out if the delay cause is a fatality. See where this is going?

Now I'm not saying that Southern have lied to passengers and kept the compensation. But it does go on - Virgin tried it on with me once.