My wife today had an important job interview in London but because of the incompetence of Network Rail and Greater Anglia (owned by Abellio) her train was cancelled. Supposedly there is a points problem at Liverpool Street. In private businesses, problems happen which affect customers but no where near to the same extent as the number of problems Network Rail and Greater Anglia create for the very high-paying public.
I work for a company with a massive network infrastructure used practically by the whole country every day (not everyone travels by train every day and some never do) and the number of problems which affect our customers are minuscule compared to the problems Network Rail and Greater Anglia inflict on their customers. I work for BT and if our business had the same woeful customer service as Network Rail/Greater Anglia I guestimate there would be a 50% chance your telephone (both mobile and landline) wouldn’t work on any given day or a 50% chance your debit card transaction in the supermarket wouldn’t work on any given day. If that was the reality, BT would go bust very quickly. It isn’t the reality because we are an efficiently run private business.
Why are the rules of commerce different for Network Rail/Greater Anglia – perhaps it’s the massive tax subsidies which keep on coming however badly they perform? This model doesn’t work: look at the NHS for instance – hardly the bastion of efficiency and good service.
As a result of the woeful rail infrastructure in the East of England, Ipswich will never become a regional centre, which the Borough Council pretends it already is, unless the Great Eastern mainline between Norwich and London Liverpool Street is overhauled. As regular reader Stephen points out, the track is only a single track each way north of Shenfield, which is over 50 miles from Ipswich!
Basically, by definition Ipswich is still a backwater because of our railway line. This IS damaging Ipswich economically. I like Ipswich, which has been my home for eleven years – it has a feel of a Northern England town in the middle of the Suffolk countryside with a strong sense of community. It’s compact size means it is easy to move around and although the shops and restaurants could be better it is still has most things one needs in terms of leisure facilities.
But it takes for ever to get anywhere else in the UK either by road and, of course, rail and this stops Ipswich from growing. Companies don’t want to be based far from anywhere – there is a reason why so many global businesses are based around the M4 corridor!
Unless a miracle happens and Ben Gummer and his fellow MPs win millions of pounds of investment for upgrading the Great Eastern mainline, more and more young people will know their futures do not lie in Ipswich.
UPDATE 12:35: Things have just gone from bad to worse. Some poor person has just jumped in front of a train. The trains which were still running have now also been cancelled.
How long will it take Greater Anglia, Network Rail and British Transport Police to “clear up” after this incident? It usually takes hours. My wife reports Liverpool Street station are telling the public the police have not yet been able to find the body!