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Steam train day out.

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Tomorrow I’ve been talked into taking my son for a ride on a real life steam train. Not even Thomas or the Flying Scotsman, just your average bog standard steam engine.

And the price of this hour joinery one stop away and back £14. £14 for two adults and a three-year old. Now i love my boy and would get him anything he wants but £14 seem too much to spend on going on a train. To go the same distance on a normal train would be less than £5.

But, I cant complain about the price really. He was promised a ride on a steam train when he managed to use the big boy toilet twenty times for a pee and two times for a poo. After a couple of accidents (the last couple being with poo) he has managed to be mostly toilet trained, without the use of a potty, in just over a week.

Every day that i have spoken to him since he hit the magic target of stickers on the chart he has counted the number of days off till he gets to go ont he train with mummy and granddad. Cant forget granddad. The little mans favouritest person int he whole wide world.

My dad, bless him thinks it’s all a bit weird to get so excited about going on a steam train. This is the man who at nearly 61 has seen moe changes to the way we live then almost anyone else i know. Until he was about my age (he mumbles), the only trains you could get where steam trains.

Train stations where full of horrible smoke and the smell! dont get him started on the smell, or the dirt from the coal smoke.

Even at 24 i’m excited about going to see/ride the steam train. Cant remember the last time i went on one, I’m tols i was about eight. And i do feel a little bubble of wonder when i see a steam train go by. The trains we use every day are much faster and cleaner to use but just not as much fun.

We’ll be going on the East Lancs Railway steam train which is on a dedicated line between Heywood and Rawtenstall. Really not that far in the grand scheme of things, but i think far enough if not a bit too far for a little boys attention span. Think i’ll pack a couple of things that he can do on the train, just in case.

He’s said he wants to go somewhere nice to eat, He originally wanted to eat on the train and was disappointed to hear that there wasnt food on the train we’ll be getting. So i fully expect him to say he wants to go to McDonald’s instead. Would rather take him to a market café.

My son loves people watching and asking things about what he sees so a nice little market café would keep him entertained while we waited for food, as well as not breaking the bank.

Next time i see him we’ll be going to a children’s entertainment/learning center called Eureka in Halifax. Dont know how much of it we’ll get done in a day but we’ll give it a go.

We’re planning on going to a petting farm sometime soon, when the weather is nicer and it isn’t lambing season.

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Lord Adonis.

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Flicking through the news websites I noticed that Lord Adonis is quoted a complaining about the train companies, much as I was some three days ago.

Speaking at a meeting at the Labour party conference he is quoted as saying “Train companies must not be allowed to degrade services once they have taken on a franchise”. This will ring true for anyone who travels by a train a lot as they have noticed and complained about how the service they are provided with has gone down hill as the years have passed.

In 2009 national express lost the right to run trains on the East Coast Mainline. the service that they were providing was even worse than any you can find on a normal train journey, which is saying a lot. Even though the fares where some of the highest in the country they were losing money hand over fist. And, as a last-ditch move to keep their trains running they considered taking away all catering on their trains.

On most long journeys it is fair to expect that there will be a catering carriage on the train, where you can expect to pay over the odds for a cup of coffee or a packet of crisps. Having a catering carriage when something happens to the line so your sat in the middle of no where is great as they often offer free cold drinks or in the case of one trip i took things from the fridge as they had lost power and needed to clear the perishables quickly.

Rightly the labour government said that wasnt good enough and took over the running of the service.

Lord Adonis also states that “their is nothing in teh francise agreements signed by the train operaters about proveding catering services” condisering that it can often take three hours to get from city to another i would have thought something as simple as catering would be set out in the francise agreement.

He talks about how governmet should step to keep the companies inline as they are currently running in effect regional monopolies. Which is very true, unlike other consumer based services you cant change which train provider you use as your stck with the one you’ve got thanks to how the system is run.

One last quote which i think sums up how most people feel. “we need a much more active, mch more professional state acting on behalf of the consumer and profound public interest.”

Great British Transport

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The Great British public transport system. love it or loath it, it’s always there and always will be.
The best thing you can say about public transport is that sometimes it runs on time. Most of the time you can guarantee that it will be running late and will be so over crowded battery farmers would balk at the idea of packing their animals that tight.
That’s if it’s not been cancelled and no ones bothered to let you know.
I personally hate traveling by public transport. Is expensive and rubbish. But, for all that it’s still cheaper for your average person on a low wage then running a car.
But, for how much longer?
Train prices raise at an alarming rate, often with very little or no warning. The number of times i caught a train and been told the price has gone up and I didn’t know.
I know in some places you have to buy the train tickets before you board the train, but how the hell can you do that when there isn’t a ticket office on the platform laughing called your local station? Northern rail often hasn’t cared in the past. the conductor will just sell you a ticket when he gets to your seat.
but, i’ve recently been told that all that is due to change with the company soon to be hiring enforcers on the trains. people to make sure that you have a ticket before you get on the train.
I asked how this would affect me since there’s nowhere to buy a ticket where I get the train, and all the conductor could say to me was “I dont know. i guess i’ll find out when you do.”
what sort of answer is this to a real concern of a consumer? when looking on the website it doesn’t mention this only that it is “illegal to board a train without a valid ticket”.
It’s the same with buses. You go on a website to find which bus service you need to get and all it will tell you is the name of the stop, not where the stop is in relation to anything you can use as a point of reference. often when you type in where you want to go and where from the site freezes or tells you it doesn’t recognise the locations you’ve entered.
I know that there’s those of you reading this who would say stop moaning and just get a car. that’s easy to say when you can afford it. even if it means that you have to cut back on most things to keep the car running.
for someone like me a single, unemployed person under the age of twenty-five it’s just too expensive to even think of running a car.
even before I was made redundant from my part-time supervisors job for a bust clothes store I couldn’t afford to drive, and had to rely on public transport to get me to work on time. now I find myself without a job and trying to apply for jobs hoping that it’s somewhere I can get to using public transport. I’ve seen plenty of jobs i could do but it says in the description “must have use of own transport”.
I know plenty of people my age who are in the same boat. competing with older more experienced people for jobs and not being able to apply for jobs as they rely on public transport.
you hear green lobbist’s and such like saying that everyone should give up their cars and use public transport instead. whilst I agree that people shouldnt use their cars to nip to the local shops I think its near impossible to expect everyone to give up their cars to get to work.
for people to willingly give up their cars public transport needs to cover more areas where people live and work, be cheaper and run on time.
it’s a disgrace when you compare our transport system to that of the japanese where legend has it that if the transport is running late by more than a few seconds the transport company will give you a slip to pass on to your boss, doctor, etc to explain why your late.
now i’m not saying that our transport should be as considerate as that, but surely if a country where a hell of a lot more people use public transport on a regular basis can get it running on time why the hell can’t we?
there’s always some excuse when you ask that question. there’s leaves on the track, or you can’t always account for the amount of traffic on the roads at any given time.
often the companies that are giving these excuses are the same ones that have been running the service for years if not decades. surely in that amount of time the company’s have been able to work out how bad the traffic is likely to be during the rush hour, or even be able to get the machine out they use to keep the tracks clear so it doesn’t affect those travelling.
in the 13 years I’ve been using public transport to get to school, work,etc i’ve noticed that it’s become even more unreliable and the price rises have always been much higher than inflation. in a way I feel like the type of person I used to take the micky out of when I first started using public transport, talking about how i remember the time the price of the journey was less than half the price it is now. when those people where talking like that i think they were mostly talking price rises over decades not a handful of years like i’m talking about in my young age.
from what i gather talking to people the things i have written about have mostly always been the case with public transport since it was privatized and will always be the case unless there is a radical over haul of the system.