Unfavourable rail network numbers

I have come to the conclusion, after being without a car for five years, that travel by rail in the UK is just about the most infuriating process you can undertake on a regular basis. Every day, one of my 6 train journeys to or from work will fail in some way or other. Either there will be a delay, a last-minute platform change, a cancellation… something goes wrong.

Looking at the complexity of the rail network, it’s not surprising that it doesn’t always run exactly right. However, since I can pretty much guarantee that my train journey to work or back will be compromised in some way, I’m starting to wonder. There is no ‘normal’ service, you see. It’s a myth that the trains usually make it on time. Perhaps it is more than 50% of each leg of any given journey… maybe. But at some stage in every multi-sectioned journey I’ve had, some aspect of the trip fails.

II’m beginning to wonder what could possibly fix this situation. I’m told daily by an electronic voice: “I’m extremely sorry for the severe delay to this service.” I wonder what rail executives hope to achieve by creating an automated apology system? It’s not exactly like it’s a good value for money trade-off either. Train travel is bloody expensive, and it doesn’t work the majority of the time.

Maybe executive heads need to roll, maybe a huge infusion of public money needs injecting into the system, maybe… they need a change of perspective. If they measure every individual step in a day, they might come to the conclusion that they’ve failed n number of times. n=number of delayed, cancelled or otherwise compromised phases of transit between any two given points on the network. However, if X represents the full journey of an individual in a sampled population, and X is made up of a number of phases, I wonder how many X’s would end up compromised in some way?

Sample 100 complete journeys across the entire network. Each journey is an individual X (complete from point A to B with each stop and change included). Each completed leg of any given X could be designated y, and any compromised legs (including additionally-accrued attrition from one failed leg compromising another) could be w’s.

There are two numbers I’d be interested in seeing:

  • The ratio of y’s to w’s across the sampled population’s collective X’s
  • The number of X’s which contain at least one w

I reckon and predict, that these numbers would reflect very unfavorably on the network’s ability to run itself.

What’s the fix?

No idea… though I do worry no one in the rail network has any clue either.

Published by Zach Beauvais

Zach is an amateur greenwood worker, mainly carving spoons, bowls and kuksas. He's worked professionally as an online editor and community manager.

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