Andrew Adonis: ‘Yes Minister, we’ll do up the railway stations, but only in the Labour marginal constituencies…’

Andrew Adonis is playing the old card of spending before an election - 'but only in the Marginal Constituencies'!

Andrew Adonis, another former Liberal Democrat, is ploughing money into our rail infrastructure in order to upgrade stations that have been ‘left behind.’

Now personally I think this is a good idea, and knowing the North West well some of the stations could do with some work to do them up, except that I think Warrington Bank Quay had a lot of money spent on it recently, including the ‘No Kissing Sign’ fiasco but, let’s for a moment wonder what life would be if I was a little bit more cynical.

There are 10 stations being identified as part of the upgrade, and they are:

  • Manchester Victoria
  • Clapham Junction
  • Crewe
  • Barking
  • Stockport
  • Warrington Bank Quay
  • Preston
  • Wigan North Western
  • Luton
  • Liverpool Central

Now these stations are all very important parts of the rail network, but let’s think about it for a moment.

Manchester Victoria is represented by Tony Lloyd (Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party), Clapham Junction is represented by Martin Linton (Labour majority of 163), Crewe (will be a Labour target to regain at the election), Barking is where the Labour party will be trying to fight off the BNP leader, Nick Griffin. Stockport was held the Tories in the 1980s, Warrington Bank Quay is in a target constituency for the Liberal Democrats and Luton has two marginal seats where Labour is defending against the Conservatives.

Now, as I said, I am not cynical but on my reckoning all the stations are in:

  • Labour Seats
  • Marginal Seats
  • Seats Labour want to regain (only Crewe)
  • Or Tony Lloyd is the MP

But it’s all OK, because I’m not cynical!

(The phrase ‘only in the marginal constituencies’ comes from Yes Minister/Prime Minister when used to describe the nature of public spending before an election.)

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‘Why do they have Italian salad leaves on Lamb Hot Pot?!’ – A Story of a newly nationalised railway…

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The trip from King's Cross was marred another Tory fellow traveller...

Travelling by train in the dark is always a very odd experience but today I am travelling back from London to Scotland, using the newly renationalised rail service – East Coast, that took over from National Express yesterday.

To be fair there is little difference in the service, except that I have to admit I am sitting in First Class, partly because there is £25 upgrade for Weekend First, and the train is packed.

But, whilst I was enjoying my brief moment of 1970s nostalgia as I sat down I once again seemed to have a magnetic attraction to Tories, who seem to sit near me on trains, and today was no exception.

It isn’t my presumption that many Tories travel to York, Newcastle, Berwick or Edinburgh, but this train stopped at Peterborough so perhaps that explains it.

Not seconds after I had sat down came the unmistakeable ramble of a Tory stuck in the wrong century.

‘Why do you have Italian salad leaves on Lamb Hot Pot?!’ To be fair I smiled at the question it seemed relatively reasonable.  But here is the subsequent soliloquy. 

‘Probably some mad European regulation! No doubt that Milliband person coming up with rules that make them do it! They shouldn’t be allowed to breed you know…’

I am not a great fan of the Labour Party, but this seemed to be extreme not to mention deeply offensive to the carriage, as more people than just myself groaned at the man’s apparent lack of manners.

It seems astonishing to me that people like this still really exist, the speech went on for several more minutes and seem to be concerned with pig breeding.

I settled down to my nationalised cup of tea and shortbread biscuit in the knowledge that when he got off the train was bang on time and the sighs of relief seemed apparent, even in First Class!

First £1000 train fare makes a mockery of public transport

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Getting to the Kyle of Lochalsh in Scotland now costs £1000 by First Class rail travel!

With climate change an increasingly important issue, and with the government trying to urge people onto the railways the news of the first ever £1000 First Class rail fare has shocked many people.

It’s not often I get to write about a story involving both Cornwall and Scotland, but the fare in question is from Newquay (Cornwall) to the Kyle of Lochalsh.

To be fair to the railways I cannot imagine many people have tried the trip, which would last the passenger over 20 hours, with five changes at Par, Taunton, Birmingham New Street, Crewe and Inverness.

Having just run through the national rail website I reckon the trip is just over £100 one way in standard class, which seems relatively reasonable, but according to the BBC the first class fare, which the national website seems very unwilling to share with me, is not mentioned.

The equivalent air fare from Newquay to Glasgow and then on by bus is considerably cheaper than the train for the equivalent class, flying with Air South West and makes you think that some thought ought to be given to the cost of these long distance journeys.