Why So Many Delays to Rail Services??
Sometimes it seems like the phoniest excuse in the world. A bird on the track, snow on the track, the driver has gone missing, a spaceship landed at the previous station; it’s just really irritating. No matter the reason for delayed or cancelled rail services it doesn’t change the fact that commuters are often left out of pocket once their ticket is useless and they’ve had to fork out for alternative transport. Most of the time there isn’t any explanation to start with, just an illuminated screen announcing the delays. If it’s a delay of a few minutes, most of the time people don’t mind. But what if it’s a serious delay? What if the service is cancelled? Often commuters are holding on to their schedule by the skin of their teeth. Yes, things happen but people still have lives and businesses to run and rail services aren’t exactly known for keeping to a tight schedule. Delays and cancellations have been occurring on the railways for so long, it almost seems a given these days.
Crew shortages account for one in ten delays – get more staff then. Simple, you would think right? Apparently not. It takes over a year to train as a driver which requires 240 hours of practical training and 840 hours of learning theory plus months shadowing a seasoned driver, which often requires train drivers to work on what is meant to be their day off. There are simply not enough train drivers out there across the twenty-three rail operators in the UK, and there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel either. It simply costs too much to train drivers, money which the rail companies claim not to have.
Extremely hot weather accounts for delays too, as well as snow (aren’t these tracks made from steel?!) which puts temporary speed restrictions on the line. Over running engineering works have led to many a delay or cancellation too, and the odd herd of cows. Yes, cows. Really. Engines breaking down, signal issues, safety concerns, passengers falling ill, there’s a whole plethora of hiccups and problems that can befall our much needed rail services, but one thing is for sure, as much as we understand things happen and sometimes it can’t be helped, it is still really really really frustrating.