Friday, 24 October 2008

Railways: keeping people in their place?

In a field a couple of villages away, there's a loco. It's there to attract attention and make people aware of the campaign to restore the local railway station, closed by Dr Beeching in the early 60s. See

I travelled to school every day on the train for a number of years and have very happy memories of the steam locos, coke fires in warm waiting rooms, gas lights and dripping water hydrants. Train spotting, Jubilee Class, LNER, sitting in the signal box…

My local station (then), Sutton Junction, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, was closed during the Beeching years.

Because the younger son has been borrowing my car, I’ve been using the railway to travel to and from work recently and have discovered just how limiting it really is. First, I have to drive to the station, two villages away, then pay what I regard as a very high sum for a return journey of 20 miles (£4.30) and, finally, wait on the cold station for the train to arrive, often late. I then have to walk from the station to the office. There’s a tight limit on what I can carry back and forth, and I have to stick to the railway company’s times, adding about an hour onto each day. With the car, there is complete freedom to come and go as I please; I can do errands at lunchtime, attend classes after work and ferry other people and equipment around.

It seems to me that the railways are an effective way of keeping people in their place, so perhaps I’m not such an enthusiast after all. I think long journeys on comfortable trains (if you can afford the complex fares) can be great – you can work, eat, listen to music, read, etc., all of which are denied to you while driving.

Even during my school days, we had to walk to the station, about three quarters of a mile away, down a narrow country lane, often blocked with snow, and it meant that I left home at 7.30 am and didn’t return home until 6pm (eat, homework, bed 10pm) what a life! I do understand that we can’t drive around for ever, but I just don’t like being kept in my place!

Slow Train
Flanders and Swann

Miller's Dale for Tideswell
Kirby Muxloe (2 villages from me)
Mow Cop and Scholar Green (where we used to keep our narrow boat Ophelia)
- All real places -

1 comment:

  1. very gud memories of train travel i was searching for some gud peace of information on net and found your great blog i can not stop my self to post a comment on it.