So we have another story about how overrunning maintenance work on our railways has caused travel chaos. One of the things to remember is that we only hear about the overruns and not the successfully completed work. I would not be surprised if only a tiny minority of work overruns.
But that isn’t much comfort to those caught up in the chaos.
Somewhere within National Rail, there is a department that decides when engineering work can take place, and they will have made a calculation to determine when the least “costly” overruns can be scheduled. They probably make this calculation based on the number of travel hours lost.
But perhaps they are not considering the quality of those hours lost. Some travel is more valuable than other travel; not in simple economic terms, but including other factors such as the amount of distress caused.
Holiday travel is a bit different to everyday travel in that :-
- People tend to travel further and make more connections. Disrupting their travel could well leave them stranded in an unfamiliar environment.
- More “vulnerable” people travel for holidays – children and old people – who are less likely to cope well with the disruption.
- Frankly most normal people value their holiday trips higher than their work trips; missing a day’s work because you cannot get in is mildly annoying, but missing a holiday is devastating.
- Lastly, making alternative arrangements is much more possible during normal working hours.
Of course nothing will change because all this will make no difference to those in charge who have chauffeur driven cars to take them everywhere and who regularly get their ears bent by industry pressure groups.