Some things have improved over the years..

edwin_m

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Do you have any figures to justify this assertion? In my experience of shorter journeys there is most commonly one operator. Accepting that there are nevertheless some routes with multiple operators, e.g. Stockport to Manchester with six, it still doesn't seem to unduly difficult or expensive to get an inter-available ticket and jump on the first train that presents itself.
When the service is very frequent then I agree multiple operators probably don't matter (less so than with buses in fact, because it's usually predictable whose train will arrive next). But the post I was responding to seemed to be suggesting that a potential passenger should have a choice of operators for all journeys, which by implication would not include inter-available tickets because there isn't such a thing in the supermarkets they were citing. That is, I consider, a nonsense.
 
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DynamicSpirit

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If I choose to use the car I need petrol, or diesel, or electricity. I need to decide weather to go to shell, or esso, or morrisons. There are 4 pumps to choose from, most will be the wrong fuel for the car. I have to decide weather to pay at the pump, pay in cash, pay by card etc etc
But we do this without a second thought so why is it apparently so difficult to make these kind of choices on the railway

I don't think you're comparing like with like: The choices you're citing for driving are easy to make because they are largely inconsequential: If you go to this petrol station instead of that one, you might pay £31.50 instead of £32 to fill up - not the kind of difference most people are going to spend time worrying about. There's no need to book your petrol station a week in advance in order to secure a good price for the petrol - you just turn up when you need it. And no-one is going to refuse to let you drive on the motorway because you filled up at the wrong petrol station - unlike buying a train ticket, where choosing the wrong ticket could see you not allowed to travel on certain trains that - to a non-rail-enthusiast - may seem no different from the trains you are allowed to travel on. There is a real difference with rail travel in that the complexity of the ticketing system does often make it hard for people to buy with any confidence that they've made the best choice, or even understood what the options are.
 

yorksrob

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Although there has been much complaint of the flat cloth used by some operators of late (and for good reason), I think the trains are generally much cleaner than in days of old.

Memories of faded Bournemouth blue moquette, peppered with chewing gum, the grime, the dirt, the old disused ashtrays full of yet more chewing gum and sweet wrappers. Windows that were well placed but so scruffy you couldn't see through them and of course let's not forget the toilets.

I don't know. Looking at the stained flat cloth on my current train, I think I'd rather take my chances with the faded Bournemouth Blue !

Although there has been much complaint of the flat cloth used by some operators of late (and for good reason), I think the trains are generally much cleaner than in days of old.

Memories of faded Bournemouth blue moquette, peppered with chewing gum, the grime, the dirt, the old disused ashtrays full of yet more chewing gum and sweet wrappers. Windows that were well placed but so scruffy you couldn't see through them and of course let's not forget the toilets.

I don't know. Looking at the stained flat cloth on my current train, I think I'd rather take my chances with the faded Bournemouth
Quite. Anyone that remembers Kings' Cross pre-rebuild wouldn't think the ambience has gotten worse....it was a skanky, filthy and overcrowded dingy 1970s relic that genuinely felt a bit dodgy at night.

Now it's lighter, far more pleasant and tidy inside and generally an ok place to wait for a train.

I like the new Kings Cross, but I think we are in danger of doing the old concourse a disservice. Yes, it wasn't particularly exciting architecture, but it was decent enough to catch a train from and had all the necessary facilities.
 

Mat17

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I don't know. Looking at the stained flat cloth on my current train, I think I'd rather take my chances with the faded Bournemouth
Sorry I didn't make myself clear in my original post. I think trains are generally cleaner EXCEPT for the flat cloth which often looks utterly rank and disgusting, all the sick stains are clear for all to see.
 

yorksrob

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Sorry I didn't make myself clear in my original post. I think trains are generally cleaner EXCEPT for the flat cloth which often looks utterly rank and disgusting, all the sick stains are clear for all to see.

Ah yes, fair point. To be fair to the flat cloth, I like to imagine that most of the stains are coffee stains, rather than other nasties !
 

Goldfish62

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Sorry I didn't make myself clear in my original post. I think trains are generally cleaner EXCEPT for the flat cloth which often looks utterly rank and disgusting, all the sick stains are clear for all to see.
Flat cloth was used extensively by BR in the Mk 2F, the Mk 3 and the Mk 3 derived EMUs until the mid 80s.
 

Pigeon

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Paddington is also much more pleasant now the roof has been cleaned and refurbished so more daylight filters through, and the removal of the clutter of destination boards and hoardings between concourse and platforms makes the station much more pleasant.

Eh, well, Paddington is one I had in mind when I posted :)

I consider the dirt on the glass of great big overall roofs to serve a valuable function. A giant glass shed is, as we all know, a greenhouse, and having one end wall missing doesn't make a fat lot of difference to conditions at the other end in a thing that size. On sunny days, a station like that can get horribly stuffy and stifling inside, and Paddington could get pretty awful even in the 70s. Cleaning the roof makes that problem worse, and it gets worse still when at the same time they remove some of the shading panels placed there by builders who understood this point and replace them with more glass.

Concourses too have got a lot less pleasant with the sprouting of garishly-lit sense-battering cluttery room-sized cubes all trying to flog you a different kind of crap, all out in the open and getting in the way, and often emitting greasy fumes which make the abovementioned sunny-day stuffiness that much worse. Time was when you simply had a buffet, decently placed in an actual room in the station structure, designated with a simple black and white Rail Alphabet sign, and selling a range of food from which it was actually possible to select some satisfying quantity of belly ballast without wondering where all your money had gone and why you were still hungry; and if you weren't hungry in the first place, it would simply leave you alone instead of getting in your face and screaming at you to try and persuade you otherwise.

As an ideal I would hold up St Pancras in the Peak era changed ONLY by removal of the grime and in no other way: the muckiness and rubbish on the tracks etc was the only thing wrong with it. It had the facilities to perform those functions which are a necessary part of making a train journey and for the rest it was spacious and peaceful. All you had to tune out was the engine noise and that's pretty automatic anyway. Stations these days are not peaceful because they encourage the invasion of random graspers all trying to force themselves on your attention, so the amount of crap clogging the mental filters goes through the roof (and a great deal of research and design effort has been put into the crap precisely in order to achieve that result). It's called sensory overload; it's an inherent problem in a large busy station anyway, and encouraging deliberate actions to make it worse does not do a station any favours.

Flat cloth was used extensively by BR in the Mk 2F, the Mk 3 and the Mk 3 derived EMUs until the mid 80s.

...and it very quickly used to go all loose and baggy like a pair of wrinkly underpants, which was - entirely irrationally - distinctly discouraging even though it didn't make any difference to what it was like to sit on.
 

The exile

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Do you have any figures to justify this assertion? In my experience of shorter journeys there is most commonly one operator. Accepting that there are nevertheless some routes with multiple operators, e.g. Stockport to Manchester with six, it still doesn't seem to unduly difficult or expensive to get an inter-available ticket and jump on the first train that presents itself.
Think that (fortunately) over short distances this is more of a bus problem than a train one (though there are probably train journeys where similar applies). Jump on the bus into town - ask for a return ticket; get sold a day ticket because that's all there is (it's only valid on that company's buses - but they don't tell you that). Come the return journey - bus you're intending to catch pulls out of its starting point 90 seconds early [this is apparently permitted!], with you frantically waving at it from the other side of the (busy) road. Ah, well - there's an alternative route that gets me to a stop not much further from home - but it's operated by a different company, as are the next two on the route I actually want. Result - end up walking home and deciding to take the car next time. The only comparison with the car-driver's choices on an "everyday" basis is possibly the choice of which car park to pay to use - where a decision made early in the day can shape the rest of it....
 

Deafdoggie

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Come the return journey - bus you're intending to catch pulls out of its starting point 90 seconds early [this is apparently permitted!]
It's not. Bus companies are allowed 1 minute early to 5 minutes late (at each timing point) to be classed as on time.
Most buses use GPS now so the time is officially correct and logged. The -1 to +5 minutes is generally to allow for a customers timepiece not being accurate. Being a minute early off your origin is not encouraged, it's designed more for approaching a timing point and not needing to stop other than to sit time off
 

D6975

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In the London area, the reopening of the direct North-South Thameslink tunnel has been a great improvement for me and of course the Crosslink line will (eventually) offer a similar improvement for West-East journeys.

The introduction of clockface timetables beyond the long established areas is an improvement that I suspect many people will appreciate.

The introduction of the Advance ticket has been a great help to me. I have made numerous journeys at what are ludicrously low fares compared to walk-up prices. The old Supersaver which used to be the cheapest fare never came close to the discount that the Advance offers.

The main downer is the virtual disappearance of overnight services, there used to be a myriad of services that ran in the 00:01-05:00 bracket but now there are only a few.
 

Mally66

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That's if you have any. Most long distance services on the Southern Region had buffet cars in the 1970s, while a full restaurant service was available on the Bournemouth line. Over the last few years, trolleys have progressively vanished from South Eastern, Southern, and most recently South Western Railway services. The whole area between London, Ramsgate and Weymouth is now a catering free zone
Maybe trolleys or some form of catering will make a comeback in the when GBR comences their proposed new Passenger Service Contracts?

The proposed PSCs will focus future operators on meeting the passengers’ priorities and will supposedly incentivise them to grow rail usage.

Contracts will require operators to meet demanding standards for key passenger priorities including, punctuality, reliability,
passenger satisfaction, capacity, staff availability and helpfulness, customer information and cleanliness.
A new toolkit of measures will underpin PSCs so that in future passenger service operators will benefit when trains are clean and comfortable and passenger satisfaction increases.

So surely the addition of a catering service would add to the passenger experience, more so the leisure traveller.
 

PG

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Maybe trolleys or some form of catering will make a comeback in the when GBR comences their proposed new Passenger Service Contracts?

The proposed PSCs will focus future operators on meeting the passengers’ priorities and will supposedly incentivise them to grow rail usage.

Contracts will require operators to meet demanding standards for key passenger priorities including, punctuality, reliability,
passenger satisfaction, capacity, staff availability and helpfulness, customer information and cleanliness.
A new toolkit of measures will underpin PSCs so that in future passenger service operators will benefit when trains are clean and comfortable and passenger satisfaction increases.

So surely the addition of a catering service would add to the passenger experience, more so the leisure traveller.
That all reads very much like marketing-speak aka spin...
Fine if these things actually get enforced but I won't be holding my breath! :rolleyes:
 

JamesT

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Maybe trolleys or some form of catering will make a comeback in the when GBR comences their proposed new Passenger Service Contracts?

The proposed PSCs will focus future operators on meeting the passengers’ priorities and will supposedly incentivise them to grow rail usage.

Contracts will require operators to meet demanding standards for key passenger priorities including, punctuality, reliability,
passenger satisfaction, capacity, staff availability and helpfulness, customer information and cleanliness.
A new toolkit of measures will underpin PSCs so that in future passenger service operators will benefit when trains are clean and comfortable and passenger satisfaction increases.

So surely the addition of a catering service would add to the passenger experience, more so the leisure traveller.
Surely all those things are already in the existing franchise agreements? But the DfT only really care about one metric, how much premium/subsidy is required.
 

Goldfish62

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Eh, well, Paddington is one I had in mind when I posted :)

I consider the dirt on the glass of great big overall roofs to serve a valuable function. A giant glass shed is, as we all know, a greenhouse, and having one end wall missing doesn't make a fat lot of difference to conditions at the other end in a thing that size. On sunny days, a station like that can get horribly stuffy and stifling inside, and Paddington could get pretty awful even in the 70s. Cleaning the roof makes that problem worse, and it gets worse still when at the same time they remove some of the shading panels placed there by builders who understood this point and replace them with more glass.

Concourses too have got a lot less pleasant with the sprouting of garishly-lit sense-battering cluttery room-sized cubes all trying to flog you a different kind of crap, all out in the open and getting in the way, and often emitting greasy fumes which make the abovementioned sunny-day stuffiness that much worse. Time was when you simply had a buffet, decently placed in an actual room in the station structure, designated with a simple black and white Rail Alphabet sign, and selling a range of food from which it was actually possible to select some satisfying quantity of belly ballast without wondering where all your money had gone and why you were still hungry; and if you weren't hungry in the first place, it would simply leave you alone instead of getting in your face and screaming at you to try and persuade you otherwise.

As an ideal I would hold up St Pancras in the Peak era changed ONLY by removal of the grime and in no other way: the muckiness and rubbish on the tracks etc was the only thing wrong with it. It had the facilities to perform those functions which are a necessary part of making a train journey and for the rest it was spacious and peaceful. All you had to tune out was the engine noise and that's pretty automatic anyway. Stations these days are not peaceful because they encourage the invasion of random graspers all trying to force themselves on your attention, so the amount of crap clogging the mental filters goes through the roof (and a great deal of research and design effort has been put into the crap precisely in order to achieve that result). It's called sensory overload; it's an inherent problem in a large busy station anyway, and encouraging deliberate actions to make it worse does not do a station any favours.



...and it very quickly used to go all loose and baggy like a pair of wrinkly underpants, which was - entirely irrationally - distinctly discouraging even though it didn't make any difference to what it was like to sit on.
Yes, and that was because they seat cushions were soft. That's not a problem these days! :D
 

Craig1122

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Things that have improved in my memory from the late eighties:

Overall there's been a massive uplift in the level of service. For example in East Anglia double the service London-Norwich, Norwich-Sheringham and on the East Suffolk line as well as direct services Norwich-Cambridge. It's such that places where it's got significantly worse such as Whitby really stick out.

Stations are generally much improved. Both major renovations like St Pancras and generally a much higher standard of maintenance everywhere. Previously disused space is slowly coming back into use whether for railway related or community use. Unlike one poster above I welcome the increase in refreshment outlets as it means it's much easier to get a hot drink or snack. That also means more staff around which along with the general increase in passenger numbers makes stations feel safer.

Thanks to technology the level of information provision is vastly improved. At one time if a train didn't turn up at my local station it was usually a case of just stand there and wait, if there were staff around they usually had no idea what was happening either.

Train heating is much more consistent. I've had a good few freezing cold journeys on first generation DMU's, I can't remember the last time that happened although failed air con is an issue.

Perhaps the most important change is that the narrative around the railways has changed. They're accepted as an important part of national infrastructure rather than seemingly being viewed as a relic of the past narrowly avoiding closure.

Yes there are plenty of things that are wrong too but overall I think there's also a lot to celebrate.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Terribly insensitive comment in my humble opinion and I'm not sure how having a landline phone helps people unable to use the internet, who do not wish to have a mobile phone and could not work it anyway even if they had one, and would not have a clue what RTT means.

For those people, who quite reasonably expect an advertised train not to be cancelled, we're no better off than in the 1960s (when cancelled trains were a rarity)
What's "terribly insensitive" is the assumption that people over a certain age are incapable of using modern technology. My grandfather passed away a few years ago at the age of 97, and was very tech-savvy in terms of using the internet, his iPad, and smartphone. Outside of those with certain sensory impairments (for whom accommodations are required by law), the only thing preventing the use of modern technology is stubborn Ludditery.
 

mike57

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As others have said, the ability to get real time running info directly to my smartphone. Has saved me a lot of hassle over the years that its been available

The other thing I would say is the introduction of the HST on the ECML (and other routes) during the late 70s and early 80s, it meant a step change improvement in journey times and comfort. The fact that they are only now being retired and some have been refurbished (Scotrail and GWR sets) proves the design as being the right thing at the right time that is still usable and useful today.
 

AlbertBeale

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What's "terribly insensitive" is the assumption that people over a certain age are incapable of using modern technology. My grandfather passed away a few years ago at the age of 97, and was very tech-savvy in terms of using the internet, his iPad, and smartphone. Outside of those with certain sensory impairments (for whom accommodations are required by law), the only thing preventing the use of modern technology is stubborn Ludditery.

If by Ludditery you (historically correctly) mean opposing technological changes which are in the interests of only certain sections of society, but make the life of some others worse - ie increase disparities in society and increase dehumanisation - then Ludditery seems to me a very sound reason for resisting at least some modern technology.
 

Furryanimal

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Yes....my town (Cwmbran) getting a station back with the service gradually getting more frequent(and hopefully improving further)and being able to watch a full days cricket in Worcester!
Used to have to leave Worcester at 1715 to make the last train from Hereford.
It has been 35 years now but still can’t get to Cardiff until after eleven on a Sunday and no train home after a concert unless you are prepared to wait for the 0030 which takes 40 minutes on a normally 24 minute trip!(Although there is one on a Sunday).
I live in hope.
 

Oxfordblues

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On the freight side there have been some big improvements over the past 40 years. When I was a TOPS clerk at Arpley Marshalling Yards in the 1970s we used to get a weekly notice asking us to look out for wagons which had been "lost" in transit. Motorways were being built, lorries were getting bigger and the railways were haemorrhaging freight traffic to road haulage. BR had a monopoly on rail freight, but all traffic was vulnerable to the unrestrained truckers. Sales managers would negotiate rate increases with customers with a "take it or leave it" approach. With no alternative railfreight operator to turn to, many opted to leave it. After all, there was a surfeit of lorry drivers willing to work long hours for low pay and no ASLEF to insist on a second-man or call them out on strike.

How things have changed. Now there is a critical shortage of truck drivers, many former railfreight customers are bitterly regretting ripping up their private sidings and entrusting their distribution entirely to convoys of polluting diesel trucks, which does nothing for their "green" credentials. FOCs are struggling to keep up with enquiries from potential new customers. And the hopelessly-uneconomic shunting and tripping of wagonload traffic is beginning to be replaced by a nascent network of domestic intermodal flows based on hubs like Daventry, Doncaster I-Port and Mossend.
 

34006

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Toilet retention tanks on all carriages. No more little brown mounds in the station four foot. No need for a porter to set off with shovel and sand.
 

mike57

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Toilet retention tanks on all carriages. No more little brown mounds in the station four foot. No need for a porter to set off with shovel and sand.
Has every 'dump to track' toilet been converted or withdrawn now? Also your use of the word 'little', seen a few that would stretch that description over the years :lol:
 

sd0733

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Has every 'dump to track' toilet been converted or withdrawn now? Also your use of the word 'little', seen a few that would stretch that description over the years :lol:
Pretty sure now the GA non prm sets are withdrawn and the TfW 153s are all permanently locked out that everything in use does now have a tank
 

Alfonso

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I don't think you're comparing like with like: The choices you're citing for driving are easy to make because they are largely inconsequential: If you go to this petrol station instead of that one, you might pay £31.50 instead of £32 to fill up - not the kind of difference most people are going to spend time worrying about. There's no need to book your petrol station a week in advance in order to secure a good price for the petrol - you just turn up when you need it. And no-one is going to refuse to let you drive on the motorway because you filled up at the wrong petrol station - unlike buying a train ticket, where choosing the wrong ticket could see you not allowed to travel on certain trains that - to a non-rail-enthusiast - may seem no different from the trains you are allowed to travel on. There is a real difference with rail travel in that the complexity of the ticketing system does often make it hard for people to buy with any confidence that they've made the best choice, or even understood what the options are.
One of the biggest differences is that car drivers have the "complicated" choice of which make, model, engine size, and specification of car to buy, which they will then use repeatedly, while train users get the "complicated" choice every time they buy a ticket which class and more importantly what level of flexibility try want.
Back on topic it wasn't that long ago we still had non-corridor stock. Great of you got a bit to yourself or yourself and friends, a lot less great if you got in a section with people you'd rather not be travelling with.
 

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