Here’s the real complaint

Revealing:

Dr Richard Beeching closed 2,300 stations and 5,000 miles of track in the late 1960s so that we could properly begin our addiction to the car: to individualism;

Why do you peasants insist on believing in a free and liberal polity? Why can’t you be the faceless masses of theory, happy with whatever scraps true communalism offers?

26 thoughts on “Here’s the real complaint”

  1. I’d love to get rid of my car, but even living in a city of half a million people, people still refuse to employ me to do anything other than jobs that require me to travel by car. And I’m not prepared to starve to death stubbornly refusing to take employment that doesn’t match my dreams.

    My car is due for its MOT this week, and I’m having to prepare for the three-hour bus journey to work while it’s unavailable, plus the half mornings off work having to delay going to work until after the garage has opened and I’ve dropped off/picked up the car..

  2. If only people who make their assertions about past times had actually lived through them or read the history and knew something.

    The stations and lines were closed because they were hardly being used, largely due to bus services which were more flexible, ran more frequently and had more convenient destinations and stops – cheaper too.

    Stations on branch lines were often a distance away from villages and small towns, so that meant long walk, horse and trap or bus to get to them.

    I lived in a village (1950s/60s) where the railway station was two miles away with infrequent trains. Buses ran regularly from the village to the market town where the train terminated. Furthermore from that station you could get a train to the main line station, but there were hourly buses to the town with the mainline station. It was much more convenient to use the bus services.

    Cars took over from buses for much the same reason as buses took over from trains – convenience.

  3. Being transport minister in this country is a shit job. We cannot push people into more car use as the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic. New roads take too long to build.
    We cannot push much more people onto the trains either, not unless we build more capacity (train lines, better signally, etc). That takes a long time too. hell, HS2 spent something like 2 billion quid just on the planning.

    And yet we expect some poor schmuck to be in charge of it and expect them to sort out what is an impossible situation. This is why I think the WFH thing is going to continue long after the pandemic.

  4. a) WFH is mostly middle class make work which will eventually be replaced by bots or Bangalore.
    b) There is an argument that Beeching allowed the rest of the railway network to survive by excising 75% of the bits that would never make economic sense.

  5. The issue of outsourcing to Bangalore has been with us for over twenty years. And yet we still have industries in this country. I work in one of those industries – IT. I have had to compete with outsourcing at times as well as being involved in the process of outsourcing work.
    It is not as easy as you think and when it does not work you end up bringing the work back in house and dealing with the fallout of the failure. Namely, carrying out remedial work on what was outsourced. I would say that Ukraine is better than India at the moment for outsourcing work. Ukrainians are very hard working and the quality of work is good too. That said, Putin might decide to screw that gig up for us.
    As for bots: Those have been gunning for my job since before I was born and I was born in the mid 70s.

  6. +1 on the outsourcing. Also in IT. The skill is not that much in writing code, it’s in accurately specifying what code to write. Outsourcers just write code to the specifications that they’re given, and much of the time it’s garbage in garbage out. My experience is that if you can specify something tightly enough to outsource to Bangalore, you can specify it tightly enough to automate.

    Only had a one experience with Ukrainians — migrating third-party tooling — and was pleasantly surprised.

  7. Matt

    My late missus used to write robots for automatic code generators. Logic in, COBOL out.
    Took 6 months typically to write the bot, all code was generated within minutes, bug free. The code from the Indians often didn’t even compile.

  8. “… eventually be replaced by bots or Bangalore.”

    Bots can do many things at the moment, but outsourcing to Bangalore is just asking for trouble from your customers.

  9. “There is an argument that Beeching allowed the rest of the railway network to survive by excising 75% of the bits that would never make economic sense.”

    Not really, the bits that survived were never profitable either. Indeed they only looked profitable in his analysis because they were benefiting from all the aggregated small traffic the branch lines were bringing in (at a loss of course). Once the branch lines went their traffic disappeared off the rail network entirely onto the roads, and the mainline network lost profitability.

    A more far sighted vision would have been to convert all the branch lines into dedicated bus and lorry roads, thus delivering people and goods directly into the remaining mainline rail network. Such a network of combined local road and national rail might have faced a chance to compete with the motorway network.

  10. IT is not writing code. IT is resetting passwords and changing printer cartridges. Writing code is software development.

    IT is “driving a car”.
    Writing code is “building a car”.

  11. “Dr Richard Beeching closed 2,300 stations and 5,000 miles of track in the late 1960s”: oh no he didn’t. It was Harold Wilson who did. He also closed more coal mines than Thatcher did. Top man, Harold Wilson, undoing Clem Attlee’s work.

  12. The article is written by Tanya Gold who, amongst her other jobs, wastes Spectator subscribers money by writing reviews of expensive cars.

  13. “A more far sighted vision would have been to convert all the branch lines into dedicated bus and lorry roads, thus delivering people and goods directly into the remaining mainline rail network.”

    That sounds really sensible. But then I would have nowhere to ride my bike.

  14. A simple explanation of a fair and just world without the problems of individualism is that everyone does as I tell them to do. An unfair world is if they don’t, or even worse, if I have to do as they tell me.

  15. “A more far sighted vision would have been to convert all the branch lines into dedicated bus and lorry roads, thus delivering people and goods directly into the remaining mainline rail network.”

    Yeah right. Most of these lines were often single track, and would not be wide enough for even a single modern lorry. And see the other posts that a lot of these lines didn’t go anywhere near population centres.

    I call BS on this.

  16. Ducky Mcduckface

    I was wondering if Murphy had been able to get some freelance hackers to sabotage Tim’s site but given he has the ability to start a dispute in a phone booth I admit that is unlikely

  17. Re: WFH and Bangalore – I have a number of chums in the telecoms business who all outsource to India and hate the bother it causes them. Their bosses, however, don’t give two shits about their senior underlings having to squeeze work out of Indians because they love the cost savings.

    The jobs of white collar skivers who claim 2 emails a day WFH is ‘more efficient’ are going to get outsourced in no time unless they rock up in the office where someone can bully them into productivity. Otherwise, their employers will just hire people to deal with the ball ache of hiring a load of people in Bangalore.

    Funnily enough, the major complaint my telecoms buddies have about Indian workers is that they are a bunch of skiving, arse-covering bastards. So the shift from office work with skiving Brits to skiving Brits WFH to Bangalore will be pretty seamless…

  18. @Ian B-R
    You’re right. A serious study was done on replacing the Chiltern lines into Marylebone by a dedicated bus route. But the loading gauge (actually ‘Berne’ continental gauge so wider than the UK standard) wouldn’t have been sufficient for a manually driven vehicle. You’d need a guided road (they’ve tried that with buses in Cambridge, I think), which just means you’ve reinvented the railway.

  19. Travelling on the Cambridge guided busway is a pleasant way to see some countryside. It’s an absurdly expensive “solution” to a transport problem. Something like the Edinburgh tram or the Phoenix light rail.

    The solution to commuter problems was explained in detail in the boys’ comics of my childhood – gyrocopters and moving pavements. At least the latter works in airports.

  20. There are all manner of solutions to transport problems that the market could create but political scum meddling and economic wrecking prevents most new ideas. Which is why we need to stop taking notice of political scum. Let alone eco-wankers.

  21. I wondered if commuter trains could be made more attractive by facilitating all the stuff that you have to do to get ready for work after you fall out of bed. Meaning that you fall out of bed, get on the train, get ready for work on the way. I suspect that lots of people do this to a certain extent anyway. Surely the train operators could take it to the next level. Breakfast bar included in the ticket price along with shower facilities and stations where you can get shaved or put on make up.

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