The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track

I’m commuting most days for at least 1.5 hours each way.

Ridiculous, I know.

But that’s the situation.

Actually, it’s been working out rather nicely because it has given me an enforced opportunity to get work done ahead of time (on the way into the office) or afterwards. Often, though, I don’t feel like working. And now and again I flick up BBC iPlayer to check out what’s available.

I’m pretty traditional with my iPlayer use: Top Gear…. and that’s usually it. Unless something really catches my eye.

Recently I thought I’d check out: “The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track”

It’s a typical BBC production. The team spent a year traversing the UK to create a series of 60 minute documentary style episodes focusing on different sections and regions of Britain’s railways. I’ve actually found it very interesting to watch, particularly as I’ve usually been on a train at the time. It has given me good insight into the logistics required to deliver the train service I take every day.

I found myself pretty embarrassed watching the outraged reactions from commuters at being told their train is 12 minutes late (or something like that) when we — the audience — have just been hearing that the reason for the delay is that someone’s just lost their life in a tragic accident. I’m never one for screaming “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???” at train guards and customer service team members — but I do often get rather frustrated internally when I arrive at Waterloo and find the trains delayed for hours.

I think it’s “not knowing” that causes the real frustration. Standing there on the platform I don’t mind if the train is going to be delayed by 20 minutes. Or even 60 minutes or more. Tell me, so I can plan accordingly. The documentary has reset my expectations — principally because I’ve been able to see that, a lot of the time, the railway teams don’t actually know what’s going on. This is simply because they need to wait for an engineer to travel to some distant location, find that some thief has ripped all the cables out of some newly installed switching cabinet and then assess the damage. Fair enough.

You can still catch the episodes on iPlayer right now. Worth a look, especially if you’ve a bit of time to use up when you need to decompress after work. On the train.

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