Oh blimey,I can vouch for Uku amber ale, for it is pretty amazing stuff. Tonight I said goodbye to Alec, Ale, Arik  or whatever name he is prepared to go by. He has given a lifetime to the railway and to be fair his last contribution was on the most thankless position in the office. I am not ashamed to say I envy his ability to take his towel and throw it in the  face of management. I possibly envy the fact that he is retiring to a far hotter climate and cheaper beer but I would forsake Thailand for Shropshire if push comes to shove.

Anyway, if this makes no sense I’m not surprised  and you were warned yesterday.

Being amongst fellow railway persons it doesn’t take much before the conversation heads into the subject of the railways and whilst I am not a typical lover of the railway I do have a respect for the industry that has provided an income for me for over five decades. Every time you put a group of railwaymen together in a social environment they are able to solve all the issues that affect the smooth running of the system and whilst alcohol plays a large part in the process, the overriding conclusion is that the problem lies with technology. In the old days a signalling problem was a snapped cable to a signal , today it is a panel failure affecting 20 miles of track. In the old days a door fault was a single egress to a coach,now it is a unit taken out of service and five hundred unhappy punters on a platform. In the old days a driver having a hissy fit  involved either five minutes whilst he calmed down or at worst a replacement being dragged out of a card school in a mess room of spare men, now it involves a line stoppage for an hour or so, downloads and a hundred hindsight merchants proving how they could have done it better.

The upshot is for all the high tech progress and the billion pound investments, we could have done it better without university graduates and private investment if we had been allowed. After all the only real thing people complained about was the British Rail sandwich and now I suspect the consensus of rail users would be grateful to complain about the food. The ironic thing is that increasingly desperate improvements are promised and in reality the public only require is a reliable service.

Anyway, I am failing to make sense and nothing I say will change anything so I had best start working on my hangover.



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