Monday 1 September 2014

Greater Anglia Delays 1/9/14

It's actually a bit unfair to call them GA delays as to my knowledge not a single major delay has been down to GA this week. The overunning engineering works have been rightly well documented, and some credit must go to Notwork Rail for holding their hands up and saying it had nothing to do with GA despite an idiot MP saying GA should lose its franchise over it.

Apart from that the signals at Ipswich have been causing problems all week, freight trains have been dropping like flies, blocking lines at Chelmsford, Ingatestone and Stratford. A bridge was struck by a road vehicle at Needhan Market, the swing bridge at Oulton Broad got stuck open on Saturday, crippling the East Suffolk Line, and yesterday signals failed vat Great Yarmouth causing major delays. Sadly there have also been two fatalities, at Romford and Gidea Park which cause no end of delays.

I doubt anyone reading this blog is as breathtakingly ignorant of Railway operations as Douglas Carswell MP but I think it's worth outlining the general rule of thumb for who is responsible for delays on the Railway. Basically if it moves it's down to the operating company, so the trains themselves and passengers while on the train. If it doesn't move it's down to Network Rail (except swing bridges and level crossing barriers which move but are clearly infrastructure).

The best way to compare it is say you have hired a coach. If the road you want to go down is closed is that the fault of the coach company? Of course not, and there are many reasons a road can be closed - roadworks, RTA, unsafe building, someone threatening to jump off a bridge, adverse weather etc. However if the coach breaks down, or the driver doesn't turn up then it's clearly down to the coach company. Well the same applies on the railway. Greater Anglia pay Network Rail to use the tracks. If a train is delayed or cancelled due to reasons down to NR then compensation is paid to GA. If a train fails then the operating company pay a fine. The same applies if the delay is passenger related for whatever reason. There are teams of people whose job it is to work out the cost of delays, and I have seen a 3 min initial delay in SE London snowball into over 1200 mins of knock on delays to other services. Every second does really count!

There is one grey area though - if a passenger sadly dies on a train it is the Operating Company's responsibility and the delay(s) will be down to them. If  passenger gets off the train and jumps under it when leaving the station it is down to Network Rail as the passenger is technically trespassing on the Railway, and Railway security is Network Rail's responsibility.

So, Douglas Carswell and others - next time your train is delayed remember that just as you can't drive a car down a road that isn't open, neither can Greater Anglia operate a train down a track that's closed. Let's hope for a better week this week.


  1. I find the best way to view politics is as one of those chimps tea parties we used to see at the zoo. They'll do anything to get attention, and it always ends up with throwing the crockery around. Someone left the cage unlocked, though, and let them out.

  2. The trouble I think with rail, and bus to an extent, is that we want them to be both a commercial operation standing on their own two feet, and to be a social service. And as with any dog, they have trouble trying to serve two masters. So we have this mess where half the Anglian network struggles to cope doing what and when it can, and the rest gets the left-overs. So we do everything not very well. And on the political map when resources go where they have the greatest electoral effect, we hardly register. (Well, except when UKIP launch a stunt, anyway. I suppose we could console ourselves that at least we're a source of entertainment). We couldn't have a more complicated set up if we tried. And every kid of all ages likes to play with train sets, or bus timetables, don't they?

  3. Do you know how many trains that GA cancelled that would have run late?

  4. An excellent explanation of how it works (or not as the case may be) with the railways. Perhaps it would be a good idea to send this to ALL MPs and the Media who frequently get it wrong, all in order to curry favour with voters or get a story for their newspaper or TV station.!

    1. Thanks for the kind words - I'd need to put it all in words of one syllable though, and I'm not sure I can really be arsedto do that!!!!!