Tag Archives: railway

Blackheath station updated

before-after-small
I can’t read architectural drawings. As several people have pointed out, there is no plan at all to stick a whopping great shutter over the front of Blackheath station. Instead the plan is to keep the external windows and entrance unchanged, but to reduce the size of the newsagents at the upper floor, and to shift the ticket office to the right, which will make more room for ticket machines, as well as revealing the windows on the other side overlooking the tracks. Above is a before and after animated gif, to show the changes more clearly (hopefully). Sorry… I’ll get my coat…

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The gravy train

photo (20)
You remember the little bit of wind we had a couple of weeks ago? All the train companies in the South East switched to emergency timetables just in case, and havoc ensued. My train was massively late, so I filled in the Delay Repay form on the Nationalised French Rail Operator’s website.

Of course, it’s not really the nationalised French rail operator. I mean, we all know that free markets win out, and that the railway companies in the UK were privatised, so how could that possibly be true?

Except that it kind of is. Your season ticket for £1,424 goes to SouthEastern. SouthEastern are owned by Govia. Govia are owned by the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%). And Keolis (keep up at the back) is majority owned by SNCF, the French equivalent of what used to be British Rail.

I’ve just paid £1,424 for a season ticket – that’s more than most people pay for a month’s rent in London. Then I receive a token for £1.10, which I can ONLY redeem with SouthEastern trains, and will be valid for exactly 12 months. It’s not even redeemable online.

How is this going to encourage the only train company that I use regularly to improve its service? In the notoriously left-wing rag City A.M., Alister Heath laments:

There is sadly mass support for nationalisation and price controls

There is also huge support for the nationalisation of the railways, at 66-23; again, not surprising given the weird public-private mish-mash that characterises the industry, the subsidies, the lack of transparency and accountability (who is in charge? Network Rail? The train firm?), the awful service and the lack of choice. We need a new deal for our railways – but state ownership was a disaster during the decades when it was tried.

Here’s the full YouGov poll.

Yes Alistair, it was a catastrophe… Except that Britain now has the most expensive fares in Europe, says the Telegraph.

The Go-Ahead Group (such a dumb name) which Southeastern is part of, made pre-tax profits of £82 million last year, and proposed to give a share dividend to investors of 81p per share. They’re doing just fine.

Keolis, the French part of South Eastern, made profits of 287m Euro in 2012.

Our rail system was a national asset. The market for rail companies isn’t working for anyone except its shareholders, more than 30% of which in our neck of the woods is now owned by the French government, and run for a profit, which is extracted from your pocket, into the French government’s.

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Crossing the bridge

Blackheath station bridge for the Olympics
Interesting that the bridge for the Olympics has coverings either side, whereas the wobbly bridge allowed passengers to see out. At least we appear to be getting two more Oyster readers on the Kent-bound platform. Time will tell whether they’re for decorative use only.

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No soap in the Princess of Wales pub

Every time I go into The Princess of Wales or the Railway pubs, the toilets almost never have any handsoap in them. It happened again to me today in the PoW, and it drives me nuts. These places sell food. I think it was probably AA Gill who said that if you walk into a restaurant, and there’s no soap in the loo, just leave.

From howtospotapsychopath.com:

Let’s say you’ve got a normal immune system, and you go to the bathroom, wash your hands in a perfunctory manner with no soap, and later on decide to eat some chips or perform some other activity that transfers bacteria from your hands to the upper portion of your gut.

You’ll probably be fine, just as you will probably also get away with driving while mildly-illegally drunk.

But doing this buys you quite a lot of tickets in the Pathogen-Disaster Lottery. If you get a big enough dose of bad enough germs into yourself, your immune system won’t be able to react and shut them down before they’ve multiplied into too large a population to stop, and then you’ll be in trouble.

Which, again to not be over-dramatic, probably won’t be the kind of trouble that kills you. But may be the kind that initially makes you afraid that you will die, and later on makes you afraid that you won’t.

UPDATE: As James points out in the comments, the pub does have an online survey where you can make your views felt… And win a meal (yum!) with a bottle of wine. http://www.castlewebsitesurvey.empathica.com/?certcode=42510

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Longer platforms at Blackheath?

Another interesting story on the Blackheath Village Residents Group site:

Network Rail has distributed this letter to residents living close to the station, advising that work will shortly be underway to lengthen the platforms to take 12 coach trains.

Didn’t they extend it to take 12 cars back in 2010?

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Meet South Eastern face to face tomorrow morning

Sliding Blue Door that SouthEastern have decided to lock
As pointed out on the newly formed myblackheath blog (hopefully not run by estate agents), SouthEastern Trains are holding a Meet The Managers morning at Charing Cross station on Thursday (tomorrow) from 8am-10am. This is a monthly event whereby the SouthEastern managers stand around explaining that very few things are their fault, most things are either due to the government’s reduction of state subsidy, or Network Transport’s problems.

Please try and speak to them tomorrow if you can… A few things to consider:

* SouthEastern are owned by Govia. Govia is owned by Go-Ahead Group and Keolis. These two companies made a profit of £23.5m and £93m (€106m) respectively last year. These figures are both up from 2009. For bittersweet irony check this out: Keolis is majority owned by France’s nationalised state transport provider, SNCF. So France is allowed to have a nationalised rail system, but takes profit from our privatised system.

* Network Rail own Blackheath station, but it is managed and run by SouthEastern (see how nothing is one organisation’s fault?)

* If they wanted to open the bloody door, they could! Please sign up to the request to open the sliding door!

* They don’t like speaking to bloggers or press at these events. They also don’t like tape recorders. Go as an individual. Here’s an idea: wear your iphone headphones around your neck, and hit record before you wander up…

* Ask them how fixmytransport.com should contact southEastern. So far they don’t seem to be responding to any messages!

Here’s how it went when I met them last year.

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Get the sliding door reopened


I’m using the excellent new FixMyTransport to persuade Southeastern to get SouthEastern to re-open the sliding blue door!

Who wouldn’t love a website with the tag line “Euston we have a problem”?!

Can anyone explain to me why it would be a good idea to permanently close the side exit from Blackheath station by barricading it with a bannister? Tired commuters on their way home used to love gasping out into the open air. It makes no sense to keep it locked, and makes us miserable!

Please come and support me at

http://www.fixmytransport.com/campaigns/lets-get-southeastern-to-re-open-the-sliding-blue-

Thanks!

PS – The shortened version is bit.ly/openthisdoor which would probably fit on a sticker :)

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