On Trains & Buses

Travel news, views & information from Europe & North America by an independent public transport user


Posted on November 30, 2022

Reading time: 2 minutes.

Since the summer, our lives have been beset by various ongoing industrial actions possibly caused by pay constraints and the rise in the cost of living. There is one at Royal Mail that seems set to affect the Christmas posting period. Arriva has been affected by numerous strikes that were all-out stoppages with little or no service being provided in some places. The one in the northwest of England thankfully got sorted, but there have been others since then.

The railways have been particularly affected with the RMT actions set to continue into 2023. The strike action at Network Rail has been very disruptive with many travel days lost and next to whole weeks blotted out in December and January. That is not all but train crew have been striking as well, so the dependability of rail travel has gone for now. We just have to sit and wait until things get back to some sort of normality, again. There were tastes of this around the royal funeral and during a respite during which unsuccessful talks took place.

It is not as if there are no other underlying problems, either. One example is the ever-present shortage of bus drivers that curtails the frequency of timetabled services. Another is the travails of Avanti and Transpennine Express. Both have not been operating their full timetables for a while. Admittedly, the dependence on goodwill working on rest days for overtime pay has not helped, and neither has delays in train driver recruitment and training caused by the pandemic.

The picture is not a positive one, and there are public spending cuts and tax rises to come. It just feels as if the U.K. has become somewhere where nothing works well. During the year, I got to Ireland a few times and encountered a marked contrast. Apart from the absence of catering on trains or delays to journeys, nearly everything seems to run well over there. Certainly, my only fear of getting stranded was as a result of my own ineptitude.

That was unlike my getaways over the August bank holiday weekend when creative thinking was needed when heading to Stirling. A stopover in Carlisle not only got around lack of service availability, but also offered the chance of a sunny day out around Helvellyn. After that, getting to Scotland was a possibility. Things went better around the royal funeral when I snagged a return to Scotland in a strike-free period when train companies had to do better if people were to pay their respects.

Air travel had its problems with staffing this year as well, but thoughts of an overseas trip brighten what otherwise looks a dark period for British public transport. Trouble is, I am feeling too weary right now because of work and ongoing business in Ireland. Maybe a few weeks rest around Christmas will help address that, and that might help others to get things back on track for everyone else as well.