Reversing Dr Beeching- TONIGHT

Right, that’s it. I’ve had enough. Tonight I’m going to reinstate the old fast rail link between Sheffield and Manchester. This will include storming the Holiday Inn near the Wicker, smashing its car park to pieces, and building an exact replica of Sheffield Victoria by 6am the following morning.

Who’s with me?

Sorry, I can’t, I’ve got to go help fill in the Chunnel.

Damn, I’ve stayed in that Holiday Inn. Nice little pub there. Don’t mess with it, lad.

Can’t you just put in a little spur line connecting to Midland Station instead? It would be much more convenient for connections (erm, “connexions”, that is). Or how about just extending the Supertram line to finally give the Peaks the mass transit the people there have been demanding for lo these many years?

Cite please? I don’t believe that you really have had enough.
[sub](Or in other words… where’s the great debate?)[/sub]

“Posited: That British Railways should reinstall a high-speed rail link between Sheffield and Manchester.”

British Rail no longer exists.

Perhaps the great and good of the SDMB can explain why a country so well suited to a good train network (geographically small, almost linear in shape, large number of users, etc) seems cursed to having the worst system in the world?

Leaves on the line.

When the railways were run by the sate, they were bloated, and inefficient, (arguably)run as much for the benefit of the staff as the customers (which in some ways is not entirely a bad thing, but it can adversely affect customer service).

After privatisation, there was an obligation to the shareholder - profit leaked out of the system, being paid out as dividends, cost cutting was pursued to the extent that safety was compromised, no longer viewed as an essential element of infrastructure, less-profitable lines, stations and services were scrapped, further feeding public apathy toward the idea of public transport.


I’ll back up what Mangetout says.

I’ll add to that that we have too many trains running on too few lines. Ruthless profiteering by the train operators. A hopelessly inefficient system where responsibility running the railways is divided between approximately eighteen billion different organizations.

I’d renationalize partially or fully if that were possible, but even then I doubt that could sort things out. We’d just be back to BR.

The only time the railways ever worked really well was pre-nationalization, when seperate companies controlled their own trains and railways. A long time ago, mind.

Personally, I can only think sending a robot back in time to kill Beeching would do the trick. Apparently that’s the plot of the forthcoming Terminator 3.

How about renationalise the lines, but keep the operators private?

Isn’t that what they’re trying to do now?

Anyway, I have an idea. It is briefly abstracted as “throwing the baby out with the bathwater = foolish”, and contains many precise delivery addresses for boxes of bitchslaps (as do many of my plans :wink: )

It’s because the Roundabouts are just too danged fun to give up driving.

I’m actually going to come out in defense of the British Rail System somewhat here. Not entirely, but somewhat.

It’s not the worst system in the world. In fact, certain bits of it are quite good. I travel by train a fair bit, all around the country, and for the most part the trains are clean and relatively punctual. It is not, by any stretch, the best Rail Network in the world, but neither is it the worst. We British just don’t like the fact that it’s not the best. :slight_smile:

Actually the bit I object to is that it’s crap. Trains are often late, the level of service is dreadful, it costs me more to take the train from Glasgow to London than it does to fly, booking tickets is a nightmare, the trains are slow…there’s quite a lot of things I don’t like about it.

But I still don’t understand why it’s so bad, or why so many other countries have far better services.

Because it was run into the ground to justify nationalisation, and then nationalised really, really badly.

I agree with you about the ticketing system though. Prices appear to be decided more-or-less at random…

I agree 110% on the whole issue of air fares being CHEAPER than train fares. It’s insane. We are being ripped off for a sub-standard service and it’s driving people away from using the railways.

Hey, be glad you HAVE a rail system, and thus have a starting point from which you can adjust its level of suckitude. Most of the USA doesn’t have that privilege. The nearest passenger rail station to me is a 150 minute drive away, and doesn’t go many places on top of that. Especially with the farcical new “security” regulations to air travel, there’s great need for transporation in the economy/speed scale between bus and airplane.

I assume at one point most passenger travel in the USA was by rail, and so you had a pretty extensive rail system? Did you Beeching yourselves? When exactly did this happen?

'Twas the rise of the automobile and the aeroplane that did it in. Folks basically travel by car or air these days. If it’s closer than about 1,000 miles, you drive; farther away, you fly. I know lots of “snowbirds”, retirees who routinely drive from Illinois and Michigan to Florida every winter and back again in the spring, Detroit to Orlando being about 1,100 miles. And these are grandparents, and even though they grew up riding trains, they don’t even consider taking Amtrak.

Amtrak is widely considered hopeless as “transportation”, for two reasons. First, because once you get where you’re going, you don’t have a car for further transportation, and very few cities have decent, comprehensive public transportation, so there you are with your little pile of luggage on the train platform.

I could take Amtrak from Springfield to Chicago, but once I got off the train, I’d be S.O.L. for wheels unless I wanted to rent a car or take taxis or figure out the Chicago bus system, and I don’t really want to pay for a taxi, or a rental car–I already have a car at home, all paid for and everything, why should I pay to use someone else’s car?–and I don’t really want to stand there on a bus corner with my little pile of luggage.

Second, Amtrak so rarely goes where you want to go. As long as you want to embark in Springfield and disembark in Chicago, you’re copacetic, but if you want to go to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you’re S.O.L.

List of destinations for the Midwest.

Trust me, this is a mind-bogglingly limited list. It’s as if British trains only ran between London and Edinburgh, with a couple of side branches out to Plymouth and Liverpool.

For example: There is no train that goes from Major American City Of Detroit to Major American City Of Orlando. To get to Orlando from Detroit, you get on the train in Detroit, and you go to Toledo, Ohio. Then in Toledo you have your choice of trains: you can get on a train for New York City, or a train for Washington D.C. Then once you’re in either NYC or DC, you get on another train that will take you to Orlando.

That’s assuming there are any vacancies, which at peak times of year, there aren’t.

You see why all those snowbirds drive it twice a year. They load up the Buick with snacks and knitting and magazines and cupholders and head for the interstate.

So Amtrak is generally considered only for people who have someone meeting them at the other end (college kids coming home for Thanksgiving, grandparents coming to see the new baby), and for novelty/vacation trips, “Hey, let’s ride the train from New York to Chicago!”

What travels on the American rail system nowadays is freight, and not that much of it, mostly bulk shipping of stuff like corn syrup, and containerized shipping. Most everything else goes by truck. There are abandoned railroad grades all over the country that have been converted into hiking trails, bike routes, bridle paths, etc.

I’m not talking about in-and-around-Chicago commuter trains like METRA, ya understand, just Amtrak.