Trains are still in the nineteenth century

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Harz's steam train that goes through the mountains

the trains are more modern – the scheduling isn’t on Sundays

I’m not talking about technology or seating, coach standards or pricing. I am talking about scheduling. And by that I mean that the train companies still believe that the travelling week is largely made up of the five weekdays.

Here I am taking a train from west Wales to London and my first train on Sunday is at mid-day. I can live with that as, living in a rural area, I have more appealing attractions than regular train journeys. But as I go through Carmarthen and Swansea, Cardiff and Newport the train gets full. It’s is standing room only on an eight coach train by the time we reach Patchway.

Yes, due to some wonderful scheduling system, we are travelling to London via Bath, Pewsey and Westbury instead of Swindon. I could live with that too even if my journey of four-and-a-half hours is now six.

What I can’t tolerate is why there are fewer trains than on weekdays or even Saturdays. Haven’t train companies realised that we live in a seven-day a week economy and that shops, museum, tourist attractions and businesses are at work? There may not be as many commuters as there are on weekdays but there are certainly people travelling to and from work. There are people returning to their homes after weekends away. There are holidaymakers going home and families who have been away to see relatives. Yet there aren’t enough trains to carry them. People will stand in my carriage for at least two hours.

One of the biggestfeatures damaging the growth of domestic tourism on Sundays is not traffic jams but insufficient capacity on the train network.

But I hear you say it is all about supply and demand. If there are really that many more people the train companies will add more trains because it will make them more profit. The theory isn’t working on the southwest England and south Wales’ lines. There has been no conductor checking tickets since Bridgend and no announcement of the buffet car service since Newport. Those wanting food will have an obstacle course of bags and people to overcome before they get to the buffet carriage.

I appreciate that engineering work must occur. But always on weekends?  Why not between 10am and 4pm during the week on commuter lines? Surely it must be quieter on some weekdays than Sundays are on some lines.

It’s time for train companies to consider the one thing they have forgotten – in which century they are operating.


Grahame Lawson adds;

I agree wholeheartedly - weekend travel by train in the UK and weekend rail 
maintenance is a real pain.  Part of the problem is a lack of alternative 
routes. When a road is being worked on, there are usually alternative routes.  
In Germany, when a rail route is being worked on, trains are often diverted on 
to alternative rail routes which are just as fast.  Dr Beeching got rid of our 
alternative routes - just think of what happened this year when the line to the 
west country was closed at Dawlish.

The other feature of German railways is that Sunday services are often as 
frequent as weekday services - and sometimes even more frequent as in Bavaria 
during the ski season! 

Thanks Graham for the comment  


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