Monday, 14 November 2016
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. - H.L. Mencken, July 1920.
Thursday, 3 November 2016
The train broke down at 6.15 am, and as of the time that I left Bishop's Stortford station in despair at 8.15 it was still awaiting a train to come and shunt it out of the way so that services could be resumed.
I understand that services were eventually resumed, but too late for me - I had missed my connection in London and had to try to find another way of getting back to Brussels.
One has to wonder at the wisdom of running the Cambridge to London service (8 trains per hour at peak times) plus the London to Stansted express service through stations with only three tracks. On problem, and the whole network comes to a standstill for hours.
And why did it take so long to get a train to move the one that was broken out of the way? This is the line into Liverpool Street that serves the City of London.
And why was there only sketchy and inadequate information for passengers, and no staff on hand at the station to deal with the situation: the platforms become so crowded that would be passengers were at one point queueing on the footbridge to get to the platforms - a disaster waiting to happen.
Of course there are no staff, they were all made redundant to save costs and boost profits. In fact, the entire Abellio Greater Angia operation is clearly based on the idea of sucking out every penny of profit whilst providing the minimum level of service.
On most journeys passengers are forced to stand as there are not enough seats, a situation made worse by the lack of storage space for luggage, which on a line that serves a major airport is an absolute scandal.
The cause of this disgracefully inadequate service, and ticket prices are very high on this line, is of course privatisation. Reliable and safe service has been replaced by the desire for ever greater profit.
It saddens me to think that tourists and business travellers coming into the country through Stansted will have this as their first experience of the country.
I have managed to rearrange my journey, at great inconvenience and some additional expense. I have to be at Victoria Station at 2pm. It should be around one hour's journey, but in order to have any chance ofarriving on time I will allow myself three hours. It really is that bad.