Friday, 15 March 2013

Ode to Southern Rail

by Jemima Carter

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of train delays, but there is something about the months of October through to April that our rail system is particularly unable to cope with. I would blame it on the weather, but then the brilliant thing about trains is that they can be late every day for a month until that one snowy day that you think you can get away with a few minutes extra in bed and BAM: it’s three minutes early. Then of course there’s that one day every month or so when without warning or reason there will be no trains at all and you’ll be crammed on to a replacement bus service stopping in every tiny village known to man and have to stand for an hour with your head up someone’s armpit.

It’s all fun and games until you realise that the people who waited two hours for a train actually managed to get home before you. If you’re stuck for entertainment in these mammoth waiting periods, there’s always the apologetic tannoy announcement telling you what went wrong this time, whether it’s adverse weather (caused by rain, snow, fog, sun and pretty much every other condition imaginable), previous broken down trains, gas leaks, suicides on the tracks, signalling failures, or my favourite yet: “a delayed member of train staff”.

The funny thing is that when you manage to persuade someone to give you a lift in you sort of miss it. You feel almost like you’ve cheated when your classmates wander in at break after being terminated at some obscure station and walking through the snow for hours.
  The words “The sixteen’s cancelled” are inevitably followed by someone producing money and a quick trip to the co-op for food and can make for quite a nice evening every once in a while. Also, you can’t forget all of the weird and wonderful train memories: the carriage carol sing-a-longs, the bizarre conversations overheard, the ten-minute friendships with fellow passengers and the hysterical laughter in the quiet zones (sorry everyone!).

At the end of the day, the trains may be old, infrequent and rarely ever on time, but the journey to school somehow wouldn't be the same without them. Southern- I salute you.


  1. I even have evidence of trains being late for no reason and trains being on time when they have a reason for being late. for example everyday i get the train in the morning and most days its delayed by about three minute which is fairly annoying then when it snowed my train was early. but never the less getting the train with your mate is still the best.

  2. Completely off topic I know, but I just found that if you look at the picture and scroll up and down rapidly it creates an odd optical illusion of the image swelling and shrinking.

  3. Trains are always late and its sooo annoying!!

  4. Great article. So true- proud of you sis :)

  5. Happened to me yesterday morning D:

  6. my train is always delayed and getting to have fun with my friends on the way to school

  7. I love getting the train, it's so fun! But after school it can be quite annoying when you want to just get home, and its all deyaled because of weather, or singaling promblems.

  8. When it snowed my friend and I waited for ages for atrain to come all the trains were delayed and then canceled. Plus it was freezing!

  9. Thank you for your kind advice Jemima.

  10. It's annoying gettting too and from school because the trains are always delayed.

  11. i hate it when trains are delyaed

  12. A point of view.

    Many of the reasons for delays are not the fault of the railways at all.

    Signalling problems- probably some thieves at the cables again after the copper-blame the price of copper.

    Delayed member of train staff-
    Need I say more? Alternatively it could be down to traffic jams...

    The weather-...not much to say, is there?

    The thing is, when something goes wrong with the infrastructure, owned by private company Network Rail, they have to pay fines to the profiteering train operating companies for delaying their trains. Fair deal, you may say.

    But these fines often only go to bump up the profits of these companies, who so often make losses, often as a result of dodgy marketing campaigns-anyone remember Southern's Mexican friend?

    If this money went into investing in trains and maintenance, we might have less of the `broken down train` delay. Oh, and while we're here, Southern; any chance of some more carriages on the sixteen just like the Waterloo train? No? Shame.

    So what can Network Rail do? Without this money, not as much as they could. They can't invest in new technologies to fight the weather, or more reliable systems, or, indeed, indoor toilets in signal boxes (you should have seen the link!). If the train companies pay their money back, only then might we see a reduction in so many of the delays you mention above.

    But then it wouldn't really be the same, would it? Long live the sixteen!

    (Until Southern go and cancel it again because of a badger on the track at Horley)


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