So much has been said about McNulty, but much of it appears high level – and frankly, too long, dull and complicated to make any sense. Or is it? The summary is 77 pages long and features very few pictures (something that means I can’t read it to the children as a bedtime story) but there are some important items in there. I’ve focused on two of them here.
Starting at the obvious:
This is a plan A – and plan B would be to close lines
Worryingly, the lines at risk of closure are rural lines that support disabled people in travelling to areas that are not served well by bus. But there is a bigger impact – it means that journeys that are made on core routes – the main lines – won’t take place if the journey continuation on a rural line can’t take place. Social cost would be astronomical and the environmental cost would be huge with additional vehicles on the road to replace those rail journeys.
But there’s something else that leapt out at me:
All trains should be DOO – Driver Only Operation
First of all, what happens to all those guards? I’ll let the unions go nuts over that suggestion. But also – what happens when a disabled person is on a train and needs to get off? What happens when they need assistance? Has he thought this through? I doubt it. This will affect some services within London where guards are rare, but in more rural areas, where platforms curve and tickets need to be sold on train, this will be a huge problem.
I’m writing something at the moment about the full response – but these are two issues that have stood out.
So – this has to be the only plan but mustn’t be closed to consultation and closed discussion with those that it will affect – the customers. Because ultimately, this will impact on people who pay for the railways in the first place.