The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 09 Jun 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Privatised rail is a gangrenous, rotting cock

I’m currently writing this on a train. Not, in itself, that unusual. And I’m currently so angry that if you attached a set of jump leads to my nipples, I could probably start a car. Again, not especially unusual. But the reason for my anger relates to the fact I’m on a train and it’s all bound up with how gallingly shite privatised rail services are. And yes, I am just about to go there. Hold on – it’s going to be an angry ride.

Travelling from Three Bridges to St Pancras, the train was delayed. It’s a service run by Southern, who are notable only in their dunderheaded inability to manage to do anything with trains that doesn’t involve annoying their customers. If they were a toddler doing finger paints or an old man squeezing out a bowel movement, they might be better off. Who knows? But they’re a train operating company and they’re almost pathologically incompetent.

I’m not sure what the reason was. Perhaps a squirrel farted three miles away from the track, created a localised air disturbance and broke one of the rails or some other, vital piece of equipment which runs the railway and yet is simultaneously so fragile that a distant squirrel fart can catastrophically break it. Or perhaps it was simply that the sun is out. Either way. The train ran into London with all the speed of a three toed sloth experiencing mobility issues and whose scooter is still at the mender’s. I missed my connection.

Later on, minutes after it wheezed in, I explained this to the officious little gimp in a clip-on tie at the East Midlands Trains desk and he grudgingly let me on the 1:15 to Nottingham, my destination.As I walked angrily along the platform, imagining that the chief executive of Southern’s face lay under every step, I realised that the train was named after the engineer who had actually designed it. And he designed it around 1972. Ted Heath was the Prime Minister, there was no talk of privatisation and all the garden was rosy. The new design was produced between 1975 and 1982 and all in the British engineering garden seemed rosy.

Fast forward to 2016, and they’re all still in service. Well, most of them. But now, the trains have been privatised, which means that we’re paying wagon loads of cash for train operating companies to run trains that were designed and built under British Rail, a nationalised industry, for private profit. I wonder if anyone can explain this to me? We built the trains and maintained them, then they’re taken off us and the service is sold back to us at an exorbitant price underscored by the taxpayer. Someone, it seems, has either erred or is actively evil.

What we have, in my day of disrupted travel, is the perfect image of rail privatisation. The day started with a honking great delay and official ineptitude, involved a pimply, five foot man in a clip-on tie and then carried on with a train that is nearly as old as I am and which was built by us, the people, for us the people to use. But which is now run by unseen people who are making quite a tidy profit. When it is on time, it’s running with what were our trains. When it’s using other trains, it can’t get you where you’re supposed to be going, within the allotted time.

If this isn’t the most ostentatious load of old cock, I’d be amazed. In France, they’d be turning over cars, laying siege to the offices and celebrating when the heads of railway company members were paraded around on spikes and then looting the offices for good measure. Because we’re British, it’s just part of the essential shitness of things that we’re supposed to put up with. I like the French model, because it says to the people in power that if you fuck off the general population, they might try and kill you, which focuses their minds magnificently.

So here I am. On a train that is in its forties, haring through the English countryside and making a noise like a shed that is falling downhill at gathering pace because it’s old, tired and because the engineering industry died when someone said ‘Hey, I have a great idea – let’s sell stuff that people own and act baffled when they say we’re not patriotic.’ If we get to Nottingham without losing a window and a carriage or two, I’ll be amazed. And to the head of Southern Trains, you, sir, and your cabal of fuckwits, have all the talent of a gangrenous, rotting cock. Renationalise, imprison them and get on with our lives.

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