Wednesday, 16 November 2011


The windswept platform at Goostrey station is not exactly the place to begin a long train journey. Years ago when it was staffed by a railway ticket clerk-cum-porter it blossomed with flowers, and the waiting room was not bereft of its window glass. If you were lucky in winter a cheerful fire burned in the grate.
 That was how it was but I know in today’s age of bean counters such comfort and luxury for the simple traveller is a bygone dream. Yet there are still many benefits for the passenger. It takes less time to reach London and by and large the trains run always to time.I  often let the train  (as they used to say in the ad) take the strain– given I want value from my senior rail card – and I still marvel that despite our so-called crowded isle, the iron road threads its way via some of the most  inspiring countryside to be found. Even the great mass of the industrial midlands is hidden from view. It is as near a chocolate box picture of how we like to think of rural Britain glimpsed from great comfort at speeds of over 100 mph. In a little more than two hours you are in Euston.

I have no need or desire to be whisked away from my home village to be set down in the capital in less a time than now – perhaps within an hour. But that will happen if the political masters have their way with plans for a high-speed rail link to the midlands and north west and beyond. We are promised near virtual travel. Just think in the future of entering a capsule (by then coaches will be redundant) and minutes later you step out on the platform at Euston.
Of course all this comes at a cost. The new super track will carve its way through much of that land we now so much admire. No time given  to read the paper (or electronic device) fiddle with the mobile, listen to one of those banal one-sided phone conversations, or caress a large whisky or gin and tonic as the train glides along the track.  The adventure of travel will finally be put to rest. Only the captains of industry and commerce are said to be the beneficiaries of this new age in rail travel, and even then it will be of doubtful benefit.
 The National Trust and the Council for the Protection of Rural England are rightly alarmed at the prospect of another attack on our shrinking countryside. The damage that will be caused by the proposed line is bad enough, but it will create the potential for yet another explosion in speculative building as seen in the 19th century. When the Metropolitan railway was pushed further and further outwards from the centre of London, leafy villages and market towns were swallowed up to  become suburbs with a morass of houses and commercial properties virtually overnight. You think not? 
Well, the government wants to ease planning laws. Yes, most people think some relaxation is needed, but how many will agree the sacrifice makes it worthwhile?   To me it seems daft to spend billions on a project that will do so much irreparable damage. It would be better spent on maintaining and upgrading what we have now. I leave this blog (or ramblings of a SOF) with  email sent to me by a pal in Goostrey illustrating the high-speed world of communications in which we live.Some gremlin in the system stops me from adding it here but it can be found elsewhere on the site.. Enjoy!


  1. The story was funny John. A little too deep for me on the political side.....grin....
    Not sure about the speed capsules to Euston. Some day we have to catch up with China. In America, too, the infrastructure is becoming very dated. The fall of the Anglo-American empire is happening before our eyes.