Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What is this a picture of ?

So what is this a photo of and where was it taken ?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Arriva rant

This year, I have traveled on Arriva Wales trains maybe 8 times (if it was
more reliable I would use it a lot more). I can only think of 2 occasion when
the train between Birmingham and Machynleth has not been non-trivially late. The
early service seems to be OK, but deteriates through the day. If you
want to get to London for 6pm, leaving on the 5.45am service seems to
be wise. How does Green George cope?

It seems to now be common practise to stop a late train at Shewsbury,
making rail passenger up to an additional hour later. "You are late,
so lets do the 1 thing we can guarrantee will make you later". I must
admit to an internal Victor Meldew moment. Safety related issues which
delay a train and when the reasons are explained are fine by me, such
things happen. Little communcation and stopping a late service before
its destination I struggle with. Restrictions on ticket routing mean
you can't get the next train to Crewe or Stafford and travel ( without
buying a new ticket ) from there as the ticket issued by Arriva
explicitily requires travel via Brimingham.

The newly refusrbished rolling stock are still sheds on rails. Arriva need to focus on basics, i.e. trains
which complete their journey. I would rather travel in a open coal
truck that completed its journey according to the expected schedule
than what is curently on offer from Arriva.

I thought 3 hours contingency would be enough to get from Machynleth
to London to catch a Eurostar, but it seems not. The service is in my
recent experience now so unrealiable that it is useless for any
business use or same day connecting travel such as Eurostar or
flights. A lad infront of me in the "what the hell do we do now" queue
at Shrewsbury station missed a flight from Birmingham International airport.

I did find out that there are international conditions of travel where
on a delayed by one rail provider, if you produce evidence of such,
follow on rail proiders have to accomadate you on the next train at no
cost and Eurostar is included in this. Lesson is if one train operator
has a delayed train, a connecting operator can't charge you for a new

For the very helpful Arriva staff at Shrewsbury this was news, but
they did write me a short letter and stamp it which proved helpful with
Eurostar who were very accomadating.

I wish Arriva management had experienced the dearly departed Wrexham
and Shropshire service which I can only remember being more than a few
minutes late once. I don't see evidence of Arriva shaping up under
their new ownership, instead of granting a long franschise, its time
for WAG to point its very generous subsidy elsewhere.

Arriva virdict -> on the ground staff are great, but that is about it.

Have what seem to be routine serious delays been root caused? Are
there clusters of reasons? Have these questions been asked, but Arriva Wales management are either
ignoring the answers or not in a position to do anything about root
causes. I would be interested to know which as a lot of money has been
spent on this service.

Now Arriva Trains Wales is far too unreliable for even well planned business travel, this means more miles on the car to drive to Stafford Station.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pratchett on Assisted Death

It would have been a hard man who could watch Terry Pratchett's documentary on Assisted Death without feeling any emotion.

I though it was balanced in that it did explore the other option which was to stay alive with a Taxi driver who choose to end his days in a hospice. The big issue here is that an individual of sound mind has a choice.

A friend of mine who died 3 years ago from a lung complaint made an issue that was not discussed clearer to me. I was sitting with him in his home about 3 or 4 days before he died of natural causes in hospital. He explained he was happy with the life he had had, but that he did not care if he did not wake up the next day. His value of life had changed given the pain he was in. I suspect as an individual he would not have chosen to end his life, but he was ready to go. Maybe this is something that is lost on the pro-life campaigners, that for some people their perception of life and its value changes as they experience the pain associated with their ending or disease and the avoidance of pain, suffering and being humiliated by their disease weighs more heavily than the value of their remaining life.

As my father in law, in good health and now in his 80's, so I guess he ponders such things, stated its none of their bloody business, its should be up to me.

Once again, The Daily Mash gets it spot on

Monday, June 13, 2011

Carmarthenshire Council movie : shape of things to come

Calling the police because a pain in the arse is filming your council meetings struck me as over the top. It has got a lot of attention, here and here for example. I have to agree that both Carmarthen Council, its leaders and agents and the police have overreacted to a laughable extent.

In defense of a Council, it is where the rubber meets. Westminister can hide from many of the specifics, but closing a day centre for example which was the specific issue being considered is one which the angry mob of local people can identify with and get upset about. Hard decisions need to be made and Councils have to make and implement more than their fair share of them.
The BIG problem here is that the issue of the Day Centre closure was not debated and that is the important issue that has been missed by some of the reports and the blogger who got arrested was trying to bring attention to. This is the biggest undemocratic action of the Council and the most worrying. Would it surprise you if a planning application went in from a developer who has mates "on the Council" for a day centre redevelopment? Probably not, but if a Council can't be clear about its reasons for such a closure and accept reasoned debate, they are not functional.

However, Councilers in Wales in my experience are quite poor at dealing with rational arguments which are not aligned with their own. The do become defensive very quickly and work hard and fast to shut you out. I was a member of a Community Council for a short while and one of the reasons I left was that when members of the public tried to attend, they were shut out. Trefeurig Community Council is just the same today, as I am sure many others are.

Why the Police did not tell the Council to "get a life" is beyond me. I expect they will both look back and regret this, even if just from a publicity point of view. They were wrong to arrest and I am sure they had much better things to be doing. Will be interesting to see the response David Allan Green gets back from Dyfed Powys Police, appears they had a meeting about it!

This will also be the trigger for Council meetings in Wales being opened up. A year from now it will be common place to have video feed of the majority of Council meetings. no, sorry this is Welsh Councils were are talking about, 5 years. Unless WAG with to put the boot in as Mr Pickles has done on the other side of the Dyke.