by Graham Pierrepoint
The British are known for many things – fish and chips, stiff upper lips, cups of tea and bitingly sardonic comedy – but they’re also known for their heaving train stations and their bustling commutes, particularly in and around the capital of London. Anyone taking on the Underground for the first time will be best advised to prepare to feel a bit like a sardine in a can – while services may be speedy (at least most of the time), the tube can be a bit of a squeeze and certainly an experience for anyone not used to the hustle and bustle of the city rat race. London’s rail network elsewhere, however, has been receiving bad raps lately for problems relating to severe overcrowding and continued delays – exactly what everyone needs on their way to and from work.
However, help is at hand – or, at least, in the offing. London Mayor Sadiq Khan – who was voted into the role taking over from current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson earlier this year – has long advised that he plans to help reinvigorate London’s rail network and standards, and has this week put forward a number of thoughts as to how such problems facing the trains could be remedied. Khan’s main focus, it is said, will be to look to remove ownership of certain rail lines from certain companies – currently devolved and delegated to various private bodies – and reorganise them under TfL (Transport for London), which will focus on producing a more regular metro system to help aid suburban areas of the city to ensure that those living out of the center can do so comfortably and on time. At the same time, Khan is said to be hoping that such a scheme will encourage a housing boom and even create many new jobs – all the while offering little strain to the government’s finances.
Certainly, Khan’s proposed system sounds wonderful – particularly to those impacted by recent strike action and continued problems throughout the network – but it will remain to be seen exactly when, and how, such plans will be implemented. While the government’s focus is arguably negotiating Brexit at present, it must be aware of all facets of the country at all times – and if Khan’s model for a more efficient London rail service works well, he could well earn himself considerable plaudits – and rightly so. London commuters need not rejoice just yet – but hang in there, and keep thinking of the weekends to come!