Does Railtrack still exist? Not as we remember it!

Just for a laugh (and there are many contained herein) I’m digressing into railway-land. Or should that be ‘branching out’? No matter.

In an idle moment recently I came across a collection of letters written by someone at Railtrack. The thing is, Railtrack plc (the company which owned and maintained our country’s rail infrastructure after British Rail) was itself superceded in 2003 by Network Rail, also known as Notwork Fail by those with an axe to grind. Some bright spark thought it would be amusing to buy up the old name and have a bit of fun with it, at the expense of those who had failed to keep up with events.

The new ‘company’, located in a grubby flat in Edinburgh acting as a correspondence address, was called Railtrack Ltd and seems to have been the work of one man, John Hein, who replied to incoming letters as J White, Secretary.

Those seeking compensation from Railtrack for all manner of accidents or other failings by the rail company were treated to written replies which ranged from the polite to the downright insulting. The writer obviously has an excellent grasp of the English language and of legal-speak in particular and he uses this to great effect when winding up his unsuspecting victims. However, those of a sensitive disposition should be prepared for the occasional use of strong language.

Anyway, enough from me, download the PDF here: [Edit: this collection of letters has now been published in e-book form. You can see details here].

Big Shout-out for Rob Sly

Congratulations to Rob Sly, who has passed his PCV practical test in the last few days.

Rob is one of my blog readers but is far bigger in the bus world than I will ever be. He has a passion for all things Bristol, particularly of the LH, RE and VR varieties. In fact, he’s so enthusiastic about Bristol VRs that he owns one (JOU161P)! Now that he’s passed his test he can drive it with a full load if he wants to and I’m sure that he will as soon as possible!

I can highly recommend his long-established and highly regarded website, Bristol Commercial Vehicles Enthusiasts. There you’ll find details of every surviving Bristol Lodekka, RE, LH and VR, along with links to sites which specialise in other Bristol bus marques.

Have you ever driven up a gradient on a dual carriageway or motorway with your foot to the floor? And have you felt rather envious of other drivers whose cars sail past you as if they were going downhill? Well that’s how I feel now! Rob has overtaken me on the road to PCV status while I’m marking time, waiting for some colleagues to play catch-up.

I’m not bitter of course and I wish Rob all the best in his further adventures out on the road with historic, cherished vehicles.

When is it OK for a conductor to leave the platform?

Answer: when oncoming traffic brings everything to a standstill.

Today was the final training session for my young apprentice conductor and we were confronted with some useful real-life dramas. She was in charge of the bus (under my supervision of course) and handled the platform and the passengers well. With an almost full load we had just started attacking Edgcott Hill in first gear when we were confronted by a string of cars coming down the hill. The driver of the lead car tried her best to make room to pass in the narrow lane but came to rest with the front of her car buried in the hedge and the rear sticking out at an angle, effectively blocking our way. Looking over the rail on the top deck, we (and about 30 top deck passengers) watched as the driver tried to shunt herself clear. I could see it was never going to work so I ran down the stairs and, after checking that the driver had the handbrake on, dinged the bell once and jumped off the platform. I directed the flustered lady at the wheel to turn hard right and bring the front of her car down from the hedge. The back of her car then swung in just enough for us to pass so I hopped back on board, gave the driver two bells and we were away. Still in first gear but making progress nonetheless.

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