1.11.14

ARE PEOPLE AS IMPORTANT AS PIGS?

I'm channelling an old series of Chesapeake and Ohio advertisements calling out the railroad Establishment for a lack of through cars and through trains.  And these days it might be insider-speak for investigating the way the freight carriers have been mistreating Amtrak.  First, though, a Parliamentary Inquiry might be in progress, dealing with heavy passenger loadings on British commuter trains.
Tory MP Dominic Raab said his constituents expected answers about why they were been treated like "sardines".

Mr Raab, the MP for Esher, raised conditions on the 07:32 Woking to London Waterloo service during a Westminster Hall debate on value for money on services operated by South West Trains.

He said the train, dubbed the "Sardine Express" in the media, was regularly carrying 500 passengers more than its capacity and was "packed to the gunnels" long before it reached its final destination.
And tight loading gauges preclude the introduction of gallery cars. In my recollection, the suburban lines out of Waterloo tend to be two tracks each, with directional running. Thus there may not be paths available for services on a zone plan, the way Metra do it on the Racetrack and to a lesser extent on the old Wisconsin Division. (And had they left the third track in place on the Milwaukee Division, such services might be possible to the North Shore.)

In the absence of additional capacity, political attention turns to the conditions of carriage.
Mr Raab said passengers were seeing their fares rising every year while having to put up with "cattle-class" travelling conditions.

"EU rules stipulate that calves, adult goats and unshorn sheep must be transported by train in an area of space of at least 0.3 metres squared per unit of livestock," he said.

"But the new governing standard for commissioning commuter services for humans is now 0.25 metres squared, significantly less."

While demand for rail services was particularly acute in the south of England, Mr Raab said such overcrowding was not limited to the area but "systemic" across the network.
I suspect that regulations calling for provision of food or beverage services on commuter trains will not be forthcoming. Higher passenger loadings are likely to come in the absence of additional highway construction or in the presence of more expensive parking or less reliable air service.

Elected officials, however, have yet to grasp the difference between a suburban train and a limited train.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said overcrowding was not the only problem in the south of England and that journey times on busy routes were unsatisfactory.

She said it took as long to travel from Portsmouth to London as it did from Doncaster to London, which is more twice the distance away from the capital.

Ms Perry said the railways were a victim of their own popularity, with passenger numbers doubling since privatisation and demand increasing by 10% each year in some parts of the country.
Yes, a Hiawatha can get from Milwaukee to Chicago in less time than it takes a scoot to get from Grayslake to Chicago; in like manner an IC225 rake authorized 140 mph running is going to make excellent time from York into King's Cross.

Let's analyze the delegate's other assertions.  First, has the system of franchise bidding, for all its administrative hassles, worked?  Second, after Parliament lost patience with private companies maintaining the tracks, a government agency regained ownership of the tracks, with the operating companies paying for paths.  Perhaps the public convenience and necessity require capital spending on additional trackage for such mundane purposes as the Woking local and the Portsmouth semi-fast.

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