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Friday 21 May 2021

Grant Shapps Catches A Crab

Transport Secretary Grant “Spiv” Shapps has been proclaimed as the saviour of the rail industry by those who really should know better: as so often, our free and fearless press finds itself short of journalistic skills and specialist knowledge, equally short of the resources to go and seek out someone who knows their subject, but ever-willing to churn over whatever the Government tells them. And they missed Shapps’ worst gaffe.

Grant, Michael and Sebastian have a message for us

Passenger rail services in the UK have been called out for fragmentation, poor information, overcrowding (pre-pandemic, that is), old trains, not always reliable trains, and a ticketing system that was not only inflexible, but to those who didn’t use the railway regularly, downright labyrinthine in its sheer complexity. Shapps was going to change all that.

He made his pitch for the latest in a long line of not always successful reshapings of passenger rail services at the National Railway Museum in York, which houses rather a lot of those Very Old Trains. “Britain is a powerhouse of innovation” he proclaimd, before taking a more serious tone: “it’s been some time since our railway consistently delivered for passengers. There are too many delays. Too much confusion over ticketing”.

New Logos, please

Do go on. “Government being forced to step in to take over failing franchises, and that chaotic timetable change of May 2018 … we need to overhaul the industry itself. Right now, it’s too fragmented”. Franchising, fragmentation, loss of overall control - yes, these are all products of Governments. Tory Governments. It Was His Lot Wot Done It.

What’s to be done? “Today, I’m announcing the biggest shake-up of the industry for three decades”. Uh-oh. Some of us can remember how well the last one of those went. What’s he going to be doing? “Bringing management, trains and track together under a single national leadership. A new public body … Great British Railways”. Shag that flag!

What's that loco Shapps is eyeing approvingly?

There was more. “We’ll sort out ticketing. No more queues for wads of paper tickets”. We have e-ticketing already, thanks. “Flexible season tickets for those not commuting five days a week”. Good idea. But it will mean putting more money in. Or other rail users will pay for it - like with all those operator-only and advance purchase cheapies being canned.

And more. “It’ll work more like London’s buses and London Overground”. Which Shapps and his pals have been merrily slagging off recently. And there will still be private operators. They just won’t be franchised. Another Tory idea being binned by Tories.

It's this one

But enough. The idea that the railway doesn’t bust a gut to run trains on time - considering how many of them are batting around the network, Network Rail and the train operators do reasonably well - and that by shaking everything up and having more of those politicians sticking their bugles in, it will all be made better should have generated more scepticism.

As should Shapps’ choice of what train he would like to catch, given a choice. There he is, eyeing one maroon-liveried locomotive approvingly. That is LMS 13000, first of 245 similar locos designed at Horwich Works. Because of that, and their wheel arrangement, they were officially called Horwich Moguls. But more plain-speaking rail enthusiasts looked at the high running plate and inclined cylinders, and drew their own conclusion.

They called them Crabs. And, as you might expect, it stuck. Hello Grant Shapps.

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Mr Larrington said...

I'm just waiting for the announcement that the role of Fat Controller will be filled by Dido Queen of Carnage.

Anonymous said...

The moment you see the name Shapps you know there's a looming iceberg filled with bullshit.

DaleyGleephart said...

From Wiki: "... they also received the nickname "frothblowers" from their tendency to prime easily when the boiler was overfilled, or the feedwater contaminated."

Jonathan said...

You can put your mortgage on another non qualified Tory spiv getting an eye watering salary to head up this new organisation.

Anonymous said...

grubby little tory tossbag “look at me I’ve got a pilots licence ... no not over there it’s a barn not a hangar” ... “hold on a bit Im Just reauthoring my own Wikipedia entry” .... everytime I see the overly self important weaselling little lying cunt I desperately want to punch him

Anonymous said...

Bring back paper tickets. The elderly love them, and the rest of you have something to prove you bought a ticket. Etickets are easy to screen grab then cancel, so that staff have to trust that the picture on the phone is valid (due to lack of personal checking facility) while being laughed at for being so gullible. And the scrotes still walk up to the barrier, on their phones, before claiming their battery is empty and refuse to buy a ticket because they've already bought one - but of course it's not their fault they can't show you.
Violence is threatened, sometimes carried out, yet management refuse to accept there is a problem so staff are left knowing no one has their backs, and usually back down and let them through. What else can they do? Masks are not worn, but no fines are handed out either; I was told of one train where a guard(?) went through the carriages handing out masks and the cleaning crew complained of having to pick up unused, discarded masks afterwards.
BTP is useless; local plod will come grudgingly to railway incidents but BTP phone local rail staff for their observations and put out that information as what they saw and did, without ever turning up. Not that they are usually anywhere near (unless you are in London, suffering severe injury or a death is involved) so if a member of staff is punched and kicked to the ground the usual, expected response is to be told they are both 70+ miles away and to let the local plod do the legwork (then BTP take a statement, only to later inform you that CCTV didn't catch anything, ignore all the witnesses and drop the case).
And the trains are either old and due to be replaced 'in the near future' or riddled with faults. The track infrastructure is mainly left to its own devices (track is examined by a train that photographs the line at around 70mph but unless there is an obvious fault the image is only examined after an incident, so that they can claim afterwards that they were in the process of doing something...). Maintenance is frequently down to a train having too many flags for service, with depots having Christmas trees to donate parts until a bulk part order has to be made. Management isn't railway, but bought in to save money and make cuts - then hold meetings to work out why trains break down, the timetable is regarded as a work of fiction and staff morale is lower than a snakes belly.

Changing the name to GBR will be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Still, mustn't grumble...