2016 has been a tumultuous year to the least; with Brexit and Trump making the headlines numerous times here in the UK, but it seems another crisis is developing: our train crisis.
The prominent service being most affected is that of Southern Rail, who Unions have repeatedly fought over safety, jobs, and politics. And, as of today, neither are much closer to making an agreement. The BBC reports that Mick Whelan – Aslef chief – remarked when asked about about calling off the planned strike on Friday 16th of December: “When we get a sign of goodwill that’s mutually acceptable to both parties within this process, maybe we can consider that.”
Environmental conditions, overhead wire issues, and delayed, cancelled, and packed trains have been the cause of outrage. I, myself, have witnessed these issues firsthand. At Birmingham New Street, little than a week ago, the majority of trains were cancelled because of “unavailable train crew”, and “overhead wire failure” amongst other issues which caused a domino effect that soon spiraled out of control. The train to Edinburgh was cancelled, along with other notable trains to Manchester Picadilly, Liverpool Lime Street, and Shrewsbury.
One particular line which always sees some kind of delay is the line toward Longbridge and Redditch. It’s a popular train to University, which hoards of students catch, and yet, it’s never on time. and when it is, it’s always full. Reduced carriages on the line during the autumn period did little to improve this service; instead, the train resembled those on the London Underground; full to the brim.
Along with all of this chaos, The Telegraph reports that rail fares are set to rise by 1.9% in 2017. The increase itself is linked to the Retail Prince Index (RPI)’s measure of inflation. The cost of travel via train is climbing higher and higher, whilst the service, it seems, is going the opposite way. Which leads to a prominent question; “What on Earth is going on with Britain’s trains?”