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1  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: The move from driving a car to using the bus on: February 12, 2019, 06:29:19 pm
Just wondering on the same principle, why not extend free travel for "pensioners" to the railways too?

There are an awful lot of people who have parents living a fair distance away (myself included), who are perhaps not so confident when it comes to driving long distances due to age etc, but would like to visit family and grandchildren, or travel long distance for other reasons and local bus passes wouldn't really cut the mustard for those purposes.

Takes cars off the roads and helps older people to travel and keep in touch more easily - how about a publicly funded "train pass" too?
2  Journey by Journey / London to Reading / TfL customer service at Taplow on: February 12, 2019, 07:05:55 am
0701 to Paddington cancelled at v short notice this morning due to one of GWR's faulty trains. This is one of the two main commuter trains of the morning so a lot of people inconvenienced.
This is being somewhat mitigated however by the TfL employee at Taplow who is on the platform talking to customers, explaining what happened, their options and even providing hot drinks (it's a chilly morning) - what a refreshing contrast. GWR take note. It's called customer service.
3  All across the Great Western territory / The Wider Picture in the United Kingdom / Re: HS2 Downgrade on: February 11, 2019, 06:01:13 pm

Looks like an interesting programme - 8pm tonight on C4.
4  All across the Great Western territory / Who's who on Western railways / Re: Transport secretary - on subjects beyond transport on: February 11, 2019, 05:30:35 pm
Our Fayling man took a lot of recent flak when the Courts' computer system went town, leaving barristers all mouth and no briefs. This was his major project before heading to transport to sort out the problems there. Not my usual chip-wrapper, but Yasmin Qureshi, admittedly less than impartial, the New Statesman was less than complimentary, and she was certainly not alone. The BBC News at One had an interview with a barrister who laid the blame squarely at Mr Grayling's door.

Chris Grayling’s court reforms have brought our justice system to its knees
Recent technological failures underline the disastrous consequences of the government’s misguided modernisation drive.


Phones disconnected. Computers offline. Probation officers forced to write letters to prisoners by hand. This was the reality of life in England and Wales’ dysfunctional courts system last week, with the Ministry of Justice crippled by its ageing IT system.

Thousands of cases were disrupted across England and Wales as the court service’s main computer network repeatedly crashed. Staff were left in the dark about when defendants were due to appear, which led to prosecutions being adjourned in a number of cases. Phones, computers, printers and emails stopped functioning.

These issues caused a near total breakdown in the functioning of our courts. Laptops were passed around courtrooms, connected to the internet via mobile phone data. In country that has historically made claims to being a world leader in the provision of justice, such total ineptitude is unacceptable.

With the government pushing ahead with its £1.2bn courts modernisation programme, introduced by Chris Grayling in 2014 – in which digitisation is used to justify closures across the country – this breakdown is particularly worrying. Though attempts to keep our justice system up to date with greater use of digital systems and developing technologies are not without merit, this, clearly, is not what is happening.

Instead, last week’s breakdown is indicative of an approach that cuts corners and leaves basic resources underdeveloped. My strong impression from visiting Crown Courts and speaking to staff across the country is that of underpaid workers enduring poor conditions and an IT system that is simply not fit for purpose.

For anyone involved in the justice system, last week’s events are not the first evidence that the government’s reforms are unlikely to succeed. Expensive public consultations on court closures are routinely ignored when citizens make clear they want to keep them local and genuinely accessible. More cuts are expected to staffing numbers and will cause even greater problems, with over 5,000 people predicted to lose their jobs by 2023. It is incredible that these cuts are planned when we have already reached the point where the chair of the Criminal Bar Association has described our courts system as “on its knees”, blaming “savage cuts to the MoJ budget”.

It is clear then that to really understand what has taken place over the last week we need to place these events in a longer history. Our justice system has been mauled by savage cuts which by 2020 will amount to a 40 per cent reduction since 2010. Around a third of our courts have been sold since then, and legal aid has been mercilessly cut.

As is so often the case with the government’s ideological mania to reduce spending, the issue is not only that it hits the most vulnerable hardest and cuts holes in a safety net that this country spent decades developing. It is that it fails on its own terms. Poorly planned measures designed to reduce short-term costs will inevitably lead to long-term problems. Some will be overt, like the systemic failure of an under-resourced IT system. Others will be less obvious but even more profound, as our social fabric is torn by rising inequalities in access to justice.

Last week’s breakdown shone an overdue spotlight on our courts. What we can see is not pretty. These problems are not one-offs. Rather, they are symptomatic of a very deep rot. That decay will not stop once the wifi is back. The Association of District Judges recently called for courts closures to be stopped until “fully functioning IT systems are demonstrated to be up and running successfully”. That is the very least that should happen. Huge sums have been paid to private contractors including Atos and Microsoft to manage systems that are functioning poorly. They too must face close scrutiny.

But for this country to have a truly fair, sustainable and effective courts and tribunals system we must go beyond immediate measures. We need a government that will ensure that any digital upgrade goes hand-in-hand with a genuine commitment to equal access to justice. To do that, we need to face up to the fact that a decent justice system requires long-term planning and proper, sustainable funding.

Yasmin Qureshi is Labour MP for Bolton South East and a shadow justice minister.

I have said elsewhere that Mr Grayling is unlikely to survive in cabinet once his use as a loyal supporter of the Prime Minister passes.

…………...can you tell me the winner of this year's Grand National please?  Wink
5  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: The move from driving a car to using the bus on: February 10, 2019, 09:47:04 pm
TG the bus pass age is the same as the state female pension my case 65 years and 8 months. Please do not make wild assumptions about eligibility. It has not been 60 for a long long time in the vast majority of England. London Wales Scotland and Northern Ireland do issue them at 60 so perhaps any means testing should start there first.

Which is why I said "in many areas", not "all" or even the majority. I'm not given to making wild assumptions. I'm afraid I'm boring like that & prefer facts 🙂......I just happen to think that universal benefits such as these are not the best use of (scarce) public resources as they do not take into account an individuals means.....perhaps unifying the age bus passes are granted at 75 nationally would be a start?

6  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: The move from driving a car to using the bus on: February 10, 2019, 07:41:41 pm
It';s more than that. When a 97-year-old war veteran runs out of lager, it's much safer for everyone concerned if he takes the bus, rather than the car.
Being serious, my mum drove into her 80s, and not just around town. She would do Lancashire - Norfolk - Oxfordshire - Bristol then back to Lancashire over a period of a couple of weeks, visiting family, but she had a near miss one day, 200 yards from home. She said she didn't see him coming, and it was time to stop. So she handed the car over to my brother. She said she would not have been able to do so without a second thought, but for the buses and trams close by, all free with her pass. So apart from letting the elderly get out of the house, the bus pass is an encouragement for those who really don't feel up to driving any more to stop before they do some real damage. I knew one lady, living where buses are a rarity, who continued to drive despite being registered blind! She could still see just about in the daytime, never went out at night, and took some convoluted routes to avoid having to turn right.

You can get a free bus pass in many areas at 60. 60 is not "elderly".....raise the age and/or means test it. There are a whole raft of benefits  (TV licence being another one, currently under review, Winter fuel payment etc) which are handed out without any consideration of means testing. Just think of the revenue that is being foregone due to this.

Ironically Prince Phillip may start using his now! 🙂
7  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: SWR strikes on: February 10, 2019, 06:51:09 pm
88% of how many members that voted?

Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the ballot: 753
Number of votes cast in the ballot: 483
Number of individuals answering “Yes” to the question: 425
Number of individuals answering “No” to the question: 56
Number of spoiled or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 2

I make that a turnout of 64%. Comfortably above the 50% required to have a valid mandate. 64% turnout is also the average of the last five General Elections.

Fair enough. So of those entitled to vote, 56% voted for strike action.
8  All across the Great Western territory / Fare's Fair / Re: SWR strikes on: February 10, 2019, 05:27:30 pm
From the RMT website
7 February 2019

RMT Press Office:

RMT secures renewed mandate for action in ballot on South Western Railway and announces fresh strike dates.

RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that it has secured yet another rock-solid vote to continue with action in the rail safety dispute on South Western Railway after being forced to renew the mandate under the terms of the latest wave of Tory anti-union laws.

Accordingly the union’s executive has announced a further round of strike action.

Members have voted by an overwhelming 88% to continue with the current action in defence of safety, security and access on SWR despite the legal hurdles erected by the Tories. This is the fourth time that the union has been forced to ballot with the company stringing out the process every six months in the hope that their constant undermining of their own safety-critical workforce will impact on union members morale. Once again their cynical strategy has failed and RMT says that it is time for SWR to stop playing games and to start getting serious in genuine and meaningful talks.

RMT members on South Western Railway working as a Railway Guard, Commercial Guard or Train Driver are instructed to not to book on for any shifts that commence between:-

• 00.01 Hours and 23.59 Hours on Friday 22nd February 2019.

• 00.01 Hours and 23.59 Hours on Saturday 9th March 2019.

• 00.01 Hours and 23.59 Hours on Saturday 16th March 2019.

The ballot result comes a day after RMT secured a guard guarantee in the long running dispute on Northern Rail allowing the union to suspend on-going strike action - piling more pressure on SWR to stop stalling and start talking seriously around safe and accessible services with all trains running with a guard on board.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“RMT has been forced under the latest wave of Tory anti-union laws to ballot for a fourth time in the rail safety dispute on South Western Railway under the six month rule and once again our members have stood united and solid and have renewed the mandate to carry on the fight to put public safety before private profit.

“It is a disgrace that South Western Railway have yet again opted to play for time over the past six months rather than acting responsibly and getting round the table with the union to work out a solution to this dispute that puts safety and the guard guarantee centre stage. That is the package we have successfully negotiated in both Wales and Scotland and on a number of English franchises. It defies belief that we are being denied the same positive outcome on the South Western Railway routes.

“This ballot result comes just a day after RMT secured a guard guarantee in the long running dispute on Northern Rail allowing the union to suspend on-going strike action - piling yet more pressure on SWR to stop stalling and start talking seriously around safe and accessible services with all trains running with a guard on board. ‎There is no excuse for them to stall that process any longer.“

88% of how many members that voted?

No doubt deliberately timed with the two 6 Nations matches at Twickenham on 9th & 16th March in mind.

 As this is a civilised forum, I will refrain from giving vent to my true feelings in appropriately industrial language, but I am sure that the sentiments will be shared by at least 88% of the population.
9  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: The move from driving a car to using the bus on: February 10, 2019, 04:48:21 pm
If bus passes were means tested (as they should be) rather than universal, I fear the gentleman being alluded to hear may just miss out.

If bus passes were to be means tested they should be means tested up to a certain age (say 75) and then issued universally. Many pensioners have a largish pension pot at pensionable age which then diminishes as time flies by to become asset rich but cash poor by the time they reach their late seventies or eighties.

One problem with bus passes being the availability to older folk living in rural communities with no bus service to use them on.

Free rail travel on the same basis too?
10  All across the Great Western territory / Buses and other ways to travel / Re: The move from driving a car to using the bus on: February 10, 2019, 11:14:26 am
If bus passes were means tested (as they should be) rather than universal, I fear the gentleman being alluded to hear may just miss out.
11  Journey by Journey / TransWilts line / Re: 2019 - TransWilts cancellation and amendments log on: February 08, 2019, 10:06:13 am
12:20 Westbury to Swindon due 13:02
Facilities on the 12:20 Westbury to Swindon due 13:02.
Toilet facilities are not available.
This is due to a fault on this train.
Additional Information
We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause.

Also the return trip and the 19:32 Westbury to Cheltenham Spa via Swindon

All aboard the cross legged express! 😣
12  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Speed isn't everything on: February 08, 2019, 08:00:23 am
Casey Jones?

I remember them being at Stansted airport but can't remember them at stations. I'm guessing they were replaced by Burger King in much the same way that Wimpy was in the high street.

If memory serves, the general rule with Casey Jones burgers was that you knew if you were drunk, because you'd buy one, and you knew if you were REALLY drunk because it would taste nice.
13  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Speed isn't everything on: February 06, 2019, 10:48:18 pm
With the news that class 800s malfunctioned after some Dawlish mist, maybe the focus West of Exeter should be loco-hauled trains with restaurants and buffets that are a little slower but are waterproof?

What sort of restaurants? Nandos, McDonalds, Gordon Ramsey? or maybe just Travellers Fare?

Casey Jones?
14  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Get your voice heard in Parliament: debate on GWR performance on: February 06, 2019, 10:24:37 pm
Yes, some very dubious nominations in amongst that lot.  However, in my opinion it would be appropriate to see the arrangements for the Royal Wedding acknowledged as that was an event which really was well organised by both GWR and SWR.  The people on the ground on the day as well as those who did the preparatory logistics.

I wasn't aware that the "arrangements for the Royal Wedding" were made by GWR?

 "Get me to the Church on time" would have been quite a challenge if that had been the case! ☺.

I'm sure the extra stops at Slough & extra Windsor shuttle capacity was appreciated.....but surely not THAT much of a logistical triumph compared to (for example) Glastonbury?

........or......(whisper it quietly) a certain invisible Mark in line to become Sir Mark in recognition of his Herculean efforts on Harry & Meghan's behalf???

Let's hope her Majesty's hand is as steady with the sword as ever should that be the case! 😃
15  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Infrastructure problems in Thames Valley causing disruption elsewhere - ongoing, since Oct 2014 on: February 06, 2019, 03:29:52 pm
Cancellations to services between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington
Due to a fault with the signalling system between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington fewer trains are able to run on all lines.
Train services running to and from these stations may be cancelled, delayed or revised. Disruption is expected until 17:15 06/02.
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