Blessed Margaret hated it. The train I mean, but people are voting with their feet and taking the train in record numbers, that is according to today’s Independent (11/4/2008). That’s after Beeching pulled up miles of line. New Labour, having made promises to the contrary, again displayed their Thatcherite credentials by going further than she did in putting forward a road building programme using costly private capital.
In Birmingham the infrastructure holds developments back. The New Street plan only deals with passengers but won’t increase capacity for the train. The road lobbyists still fight for the right to put more and more cars on the road with the enthusiastic support of the present Cabinet Member for Transport in Birmingham, Councillor “Gridlock” Gregory.
I particularly enjoy travelling on the Chiltern Line. Since I can pick up the London (Marylebone) train from my local station at the Hawthornes, just outside Handsworth and park there free of charge, I find this a perfect answer to much of my travel need. I can take a tram from there too, to Birmingham, West Bromwich, Bilston and Wolverhampton. The train goes to Stratford, Worcester, Hereford and one station along the line connects with the main line along the West Coast. However it is noticeable that the infrastructure for four tracks is still there. Bridges were built to take it, but tracks were pulled up at some point. So if four tracking the London-Euston route to Coventry is difficult, this isn’t. A timetable gave me two alternatives catching the same train to London. If I stayed on the train from the Hawthornes to Marylebone, changed to the Bakerloo line going directly to Waterloo and then to a station near to Clapham Junction it would take 7 minutes longer than the alternative. This would mean leaving the train at Moor Street (Birmingham), walking to New Street and taking a Virgin Train to Euston. This would mean an extra change on the underground, involving another lengthy walk. As it happened I arrived at my destination earlier than the timetable predicted. It was quicker and I suspect far less expensive.