Very Regrettably, 2019 seems to be starting off with so many disputes, wars, disagreements, famine, divisions and anger which politicians and others appear incapable of solving.
One has only to look at Republicans versus Democrats in the US, the EU verses the UK, Russia versus Ukraine, Saudi Arabia versus Yemen, unions versus the private rail companies and many, many more.
But there is a way tensions might be calmed.
The amazing Dutch violinist and conductor of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, Andre Rieu, has, for 31 years, led his wonderful band all over the world.
His orchestra contains folk from 13 different countries.
There is never a row, no in-fighting, all successfully based on fun.
Wherever his orchestra plays, everyone is full of happiness, goodwill, caring and love of their fellow man.
After two or more hours of playing, there is hardly a dry eye in the audience.
His music appeals to everyone.
So, if his orchestra was booked for a two-hour session before all future ‘disputes and meetings’, the overall air would be calmer, far more pleasant, and a ‘nice’ outcome much more likely.
Everything else seems to be failing right now - so why not give this a try?
Fair rises not fare rises
May I suggest an appropriate slogan for rail fare campaigners? How about ‘Fair Rises NOT Fare Rises!’?
There is a fundamental problem with regard to the structure of running the railways for you have, on the one hand, private railway companies running on tracks which are, on the other hand, maintained by Network Rail, along with stations run by various combinations of the railway companies and Network Rail.
This results in the absurd system of Network Rail paying the affected train company if it is Network Rail’s fault that the train company cannot run its timetable or, if the train company is at fault, then it pays Network Rail.
The intention on both counts of trains being at fault or the track is to make each responsible for correcting their error quickly, but this allows each of the two parties to blame each other and also waste time and money discussing whose fault it actually is, but leaving the customers, as usual, being piggy-in-the-middle.
We have a regionalised rail service, along with long distance services, with some regional companies running their trains on part of these main lines.
Thus this regionalised rail service has, in effect, been carved up for the benefit of these private (and mostly foreign-owned) rail companies and there is little competition, so the companies can charge what they like.
This regionalisation existed in the days of British Rail(ways), but here both the tracks and the trains were the responsibility of this one organisation and if there was a problem with either the track or the train, there was only the one organisation responsible for sorting it out. The notion that either one could blame oneself and thus give compensation to oneself was plainly ridiculous.
Meanwhile, look at, say, France, with SNCF as the main carrier and, on inter-country services, is a shareholder in those train companies. This allows them to charge just three euros on the day for a train journey of 70 miles! That is like a return journey from, say, Kirkham to Manchester return and how much does that cost on the day? (Answer: £25.40!)?
Thus the argument for renationalisation of the railways is strong, but the current ‘administration’ is stuck in the days of Thatcher with her ‘competition is good for the customer’ theory. This was, and still is, a short-sighted and a fanciful notion. Just look at the energy industry to see just how many of these are foreign-owned and see that prices are always going up.
Sadly it seems some railway unions are also stuck in the past with their strikes and I have to ask the question (highlighted on the South West train very recently) as to just what the guard could have done in that situation? I am sure that same union would not advocate their members carrying weapons.
The union needs to terminate the strikes immediately and get round the negotiating table with the train companies in order that their members can fulfil a vital role on the trains without the need to intervene in violent altercations.
A Railway Enthusiast
Ban firework displays
As a new year begins, we need to heed the warnings of our planet saviour, David Attenborough.
The use of contaminating firework displays require a worldwide ban.
Let us return the skies to their natural night time glory.