Thursday, January 15, 2009

Let the train take the strain

Despite my regular outbursts against National Express, I continue to be a great fan of rail travel. Indeed, some of my anoyance with National Express and their service cancellations is the concern that poor service simply encourages people to switch to using the car instead.

We have as a nation become accustomed to using the car. And whilst some rail passengers may switch to other modes of travel if problems arise on the trains, too often motorists accept all the drawbacks of driving, especially congestion, rather than switch to other means. In other words, it takes a great deal to encourage people to leave the car at home and take public transport instead. And this was brought home to me earlier this week by an article in The Journal, our regional morning newspaper in the North East.

There are major roadworks now taking place on the A184, a major road linking the A1 to central Newcastle and Gateshead. The Journal interviewed a driver who said she normally takes an hour to drive from Durham to Newcastle. Now, due to the roadworks, she was having to add another 30 minutes to her journey.

This struck me as odd as the journey from Durham to Newcastle by train is only 12 minutes. And there is no hassle at Newcastle in trying to find a parking space, no problem with getting stuck in congestion, no burning up expensive fuel stuck in the traffic, and far less pollution. 12 minutes by train compared to 90 minutes by car. I know which I prefer.

And for your information, I am writing this on the train!

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